Let’s Get Emotional

Let’s Get Emotional

by Adam Huddleston

After reading an excerpt from the novel I’m working on to my critique group, the other members encouraged me to deepen the protagonist’s emotional connection to the reader. After looking through my submission, I couldn’t agree more. Here is why it is important and some ways to achieve it:

Readers have invested time and money into your story. They expect to experience a connection with the main character(s). They want to be immersed in every plot twist, conflict, and whatever else occurs along the way. If they feel cheated, they’re less likely to spend their hard-earned cash on your work in the future.

There are many ways to develop that connection. First and foremost, be sure to emphasize what your character is feeling inside in relation to what’s happening in the outside world. Also, don’t be afraid to let your character reminisce once in a while. As long as it’s not overdone, it can be a powerful tool to use. It’s important to remember that when writing, don’t confuse your emotional reaction to a situation with what the character would feel. Stay true to the story!

Happy writing!

Raw Emotion

 Raw Emotion

by Natalie Bright

In your mind, the characters of your fictionalized world are real. That means they experience emotion the same as real people would, and it’s that component that makes them come alive to your readers. Emotion is what elevates your characters above the problem of having flat, card-board type characters. If the story seems bland and the plot seems to drone on with no excitement, maybe you need to pump up the emotion in your characters; take them over the top.

For example, let’s think about loss. Whatever it is your character is experiencing as the plot develops, whether it is the absence of a thing, person, or familiar home, the emotion to apply is defined by social workers as “Stages of Grief”.  Everyone experiences these kinds of emotion when dealing with a devastating loss. Keep in mind that people may not experience every one of the states defined below, and it might not be in the order they’re listed.

The Stages of Grief

Denial – this isn’t happening to me.

Anger – why is this happening to me?

Bargaining – I promise I’ll be a better person if…

Depression – I don’t care anymore.

Acceptance – I’m ready for whatever comes (usually last).

As a real human being, you have probably experienced some of these as some point in your own life. I remember my mother going through every one of these emotions after my father died. We decided she might need a change. We moved her into a beautiful retirement village with many other widow ladies, thinking she was settled in and healing, and then after several months she found a picture of my dad in an unpacked box. The picture took center-stage on her dresser in her lovely new apartment and I recognized my mother going through the states of grief all over again.

Emotional Behaviors

The writer’s rule of “show, don’t tell” can be demonstrated by physical traits or habits of your character.

Numbness – mechanical functioning

Disorganization – intense, painful feelings of loss

Recorganization – re-entry into a normal social life

Application to Work in Progress

My WIP western opens with the funeral of my main characters’ father. What types of emotion would a young boy experience? I’m thinking much the same as an adult would, except based on the experiences of a fourteen year old. Most definitely he’d be angry about being left alone.

I hope this helps you in developing your characters to their fullest potential. Keep writing!