Kate Allan

The online diary of Kate Allan, author

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Writing with the senses - 3

Writing emotion

The reader does not want to be told what the emotions in a scene are, they want to pick up the clues for themselves and guess. Experiment by including emotion in your writing in various ways:

- using action
Show the reader how the character is feeling by their actions.

- dialogue
Make sure your dialogue matches the emotion of the character who is speaking.

- internal monlogue
Clever use of internal monologue (what the character is thinking in their head) can allow the reader to learn what the character is feeling.

While some emotions may be simple, for example anger or joy, characters may feel a number of emotions, possibly conflicting ones, in a short space of time. Giving your characters emotional complexity is an important way of making them three dimensional. Give clues to the emotion so the reader has to do some work to understand what is going on. The more you can encourage your reader to invest in your story, the more they are likely to get out of it. Use the senses and make every word count to show this. Remember that you can also show emotion through tricks like using the environment to match the mood of the scene. Using the other five senses can help to optimise the emotional response of the reader to your story.

Draw on your own experiences to understand how different emotions feels and define exactly how your character feels at each turn of the story and make sure you are communicating this to your readers with your words on the page.


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