Recently, a friend of mine emailed a question about how to let the reader in on what another character other than the main character is feeling. I promptly answered, and then realized it would also make a great topic for a blog post. I haven’t touched on emotional writing for awhile, so here we go. Let’s dive into how to become an emotional writer.
Ever read or written a sentence like this…..
“You can’t be serious? How could you do that? Roger replied angrily.
“Wow. Would you look at that?” Madison said. I could tell she was surprised.
On the surface there’s nothing really wrong with these sentences. But from a creative writing standpoint, well… they aren’t that spectacular either. Mostly, because these sentences are telling the reader what’s going on instead of showing it. The reader doesn’t want to be told how the characters are feeling, they want to feel it for themselves. One of the best way to accomplish this is to give emotional cues.
Have you ever been stuck in a scene and your trying to describe a certain emotion, but you’re sick and tired of using the same emotions over and over, or tired of the heated gaze and clinched fists being the sum of your character’s physical show of anger? Well, guess what? Some smart ladies Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi came up with a nifty cheat sheet of 75 different emotions you can dive into and get a whole list of physical cues to break up the monotony of those glares and fists.
On each page of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression there is a definition of the emotion, a whole list of physical cues, some internal sensations, mental responses, cues of acute or long-term effects of the emotion, a may escalate list (of different emotions the original emotion might cause), cues of what may happen when suppressing the emotion for too long, and even a neat little writer’s tip box to enhance the emotion in other ways.