1. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    how to inject emotion into your writing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by cazann34, Feb 26, 2013.

    How do you inject emotion into your writing? I tried it with my short story, 'The End' but still came short. How do you express your characters feelings, fears etc., without being overly mushy and or stereotypical. Any ideas?
     
  2. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    That is the main job of the author though. You can either give your characters' feelings in the narrative directly or indirectly, or have them reveal them themselves.

    Examples:

    A fear cold and deep like the ocean crawled down Maya's spine. She was alone.

    He used to walk the halls wearing the disdain of a man better than the others.

    -"I can't take it anymore", said Jack. "The anticipation is killing me".
     
  3. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    Mostly, practice.

    Emotion isn't something that gets shoehorned in to a plot - it should just arise from your characters. Think how they would realistically feel about the situation they're in, then think how they would realistically act based on those feelings. Then show them taking those actions. Your characters' feelings will come across naturally, and you won't have to get them reciting lines from the Ladybird Big Book Of Melodrama to do it.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Focus on the reactions of other characters instead of trying to directly tweak the reader's emotions.
     
  5. Mot
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    Mot Member

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    Love your characters. Either treat them as real people, or substitute someone you love into the events of your story. Your emotion will appear in your writing whether you like it or not.

    Also, I presume from your signature that you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes. I found ACD's writing to be a bit flat, but I was very upset when Sherlock "died" (and similarly upset when he reappeared- mostly on the behalf of poor Watson. What on earth was Sherlock thinking, coming back in that way?? But I digress..) - and that was because I had grown to love the character and had some emotional investment in him.

    So I find that a lot of the time it isn't the writing that carries emotion, it's how it relates to the individual. When you tap into universal feelings (e.g. familial love, human loss, heartbreak etc.) you are essentially linking the events in your story to real emotions.

    I forgot to add (and as someone mentioned): don't try too hard with it, lest it become contrived.
     
  6. BBolin
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    BBolin Member

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    You shouldn't worry so much about whether you're being too "mushy" or "stereotypical". . . All that should matter is what your characters would do, feel, or react, whatever situation they're in. Don't over think it, let them be themselves.
     
  7. NellaFantasia
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    NellaFantasia Member

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    Show instead of tell. Think about what you feel like when you're shaking with terror or screaming in rage, when you're weeping from sheer grief or when you're laughing from utter joy. Then describe your character experiencing those symptoms and reactions. Don't tell the reader they're afraid, sad, happy, whatever. Show them.

    I think a writer would have some trouble going overboard with their character's feelings. Sometimes feelings really are that strong, such as when you're elated and on a high from a new love, or when you're overwhelmed and in shock from the death of a loved one. Emotions can shake us to our core in good and bad ways. Don't be afraid to let your characters feel.
     
  8. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    cazann34: I draw from my own life experiences and use something that i have gone through and have my character go through the same exact experience.
     
  9. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Honesty. Just complete honesty with no embellishments when the crux of the matter is discussed. You must identify the situations in your life in which you felt the emotions you want to describe. Then you need to be honest with ourself and connect with them fully, even if they are unpleasant. Taking yourself through all the thoughts and feelings you had then, your concerns, fears, hopes, prayers, that is the juice of every emotional scene in your writing. You can use it to describe reactions your characters have to completely different situations, as long as they have the same overall theme (lust, love, loss, indignation, rage etc)
    Like for example, my dog died last year. She was the best dog in the entire world and beyond, I looked after her for many years, been with her through multiple cancer treatments, and held a vigil for the last two days, petting her and singing to her and playing music and giving pain relief constantly until she was finally put down. And she fought it, and I was devastated, I felt like I let her down in her final moments but on the other hand, how could I let her suffer so much? She was in so much pain she couldn't sleep or walk, and no medication was giving her relief. I am crying right now as I am typing, remembering all that.
    I don't think I'll ever again have problems describing grief, death or loss in my writing.
     
  10. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Everybody's given pretty good advice here. Cogito's right - sometimes the best way to show your character's feelings is by
    others reactions - I've had guys tell me some of there childhood horror stories, they can be pretty numb when they're talking.
    The contrast between my jawdrop and their indifference would reveal the horror better than trying to hash out their inner mushiness
    ,which has long since dried up anyhow.

    Also Jazz is right - be honest - but don't get caught up in having had to experience things - Most emotions are
    interconnected if you can tap into pain - you can explore a great range. If you've experienced betrayal even in a
    friendship it's a great resourse.

    Shaping the emotions on paper is perhaps the hardest thing to do - mainly because writers try too hard, not
    realising they have - setting, mood, slanting to help them out.

    First of all when you start a scene no matter if the story is a mystery, fantasy, or drama - think of
    your character's mood - what kind of state is your character in - Happy, sad, depressed, angry,
    lonely? Use the story to convey what your character is feeling without having to say it. If your
    character feels that lifes pressures are weighing on him - give him an enviroment that will help
    you out - squeeze him into an elevator with other 'suits' pressing in on him.
    Body language is great but too often a writer can fall back on the usual frown, smile, sigh.
    Have people fiddle with objects, move around, have facial tics, break off mid-speech, laugh nervously,
    and just like people cry when they're happy - start altering reactions, be unique -
    make things unexpected.
    Slant things -start shaping an attitude by the way your character veiws things but don't
    beat the reader over the head with tone - sometimes a character is too acid, making him
    unlikable, or too melodramatic making the reader want to yell quit griping.
     
  11. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    thanks everyone for all your invaluable suggestions.
     
  12. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, you need a good sense of empathy to be a writer: if you were that person, i.e. your character, what would you say and do in the circumstances?
     

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