Emotions have run rampant at my house in the last week. Disappointment over a cancelled trip, worry about multiple family matters, sorrow for friends suffering a loss, and quiet contentment after a day well spent have made me think about how large a role emotions play in everyday life — and in all the ways those emotions manifest.
Think about it. Have you ever run into a friend or relative and immediately picked up an emotional “vibe” from that person? He may not look you in the eye and say, “I’m feeling melancholy today.” but you might notice the slouch in his posture, and the way he shrugs in response to your questions. His body language and attitude speaks volumes. The same should be true for your characters.
How is your character today? Sad? Stupified? Joyous? In Teralyn Rose Pilgrim’s post “Describing Emotions” on A Writer’s Journey, she suggests cutting every emotion word from your manuscript and describing how your character displays the emotion instead.
Yes. You guessed it. This weekend your assignment is to ditch those emotional labels that tell your reader how a character feels, and create a description to show them. Put those emotions in motion. You can revisit old writing, or craft something new for this exercise. Or you might create your own emotion thesaurus like the one I found at the The Bookshelf Muse. (I’ve not read the book, but the freebie examples on the site are a good starting point if you get stumped.)
Until next week, happy writing!