Saturday, August 23, 2008

Showing Emotion


First I want to mention, I saw NO RESERVATIONS for the first time last weekend and loved it! A true romantic movie without any of the usual sappy crap I’ve seen in other so-called romantic movies. Plus, it actually had a happy ending. And best of all, the guy was gorgeous, not geeky looking.

Now let’s get to what the blog is really about, writing emotions. I’ve been working on ways to improve my manuscript by showing my characters' emotions. You know, it’s hard. Quit laughing. I know you probably already knew that, but each time I work on this, it slaps me in the face.

Okay, what I decided to do is go ahead and write the blasted book. Then I’ll go back and add emotion in the places it appears to disappear. Considering this book has the deadly seven sins in it and my couple is cursed with experiencing them, it has to be heavy on the emotions. To help me, I’m using CREATING CHARACTER EMOTIONS by Ann Hood.

She describes 36 emotions in each of their own chapters. I won’t list them all here. One in particular I’ve had problems with, mainly because I use it so much. No, not that one. Geez! Get your mind of the gutter. It’ll surprise you – pun intended as it is SURPRISE. You know in anything with suspense, you have a surprise in it. Of course, you can have a pure romance and still have surprise in it. For examples: (suspense) The heroine is surprised when her best friend is found lying dead in the bathtub. (traditional) The hero is surprised when the heroine admits she loves him at first sight.

As you can imagine, using the word surprise doesn’t actually convey the emotion. Thus my dilemma.

So I show the dead body fell out of the closet and landed at the heroine’s feet. Lisa's eyes widen and face paled.

Did you know if your heroine’s eyes continue to widen and face continue to pale, it will freeze that way by the end of the book?

Well, Ms. Hood said an example like above anyone can do, but you have to write it in a way that matters to the reader. Oddly, all the examples she gave had the word surprise in them but all gave motion to the word. Let me see if I can give you an example. from my current WIP.

“Enough of your games, cousin.” Thorn wanted to shake Sinon like a child’s broken rattler. “We’re trying to track down the demon who kidnapped my sister.”
Sinon sat up. “Bianca’s been taken?”
Was he a great actor or really surprised by the news? Thorn's instints told him the warlock
couldn't be trusted.

I’m not sure if I did it the way Ms. Hood suggested, but hey, I’m trying to improve. I want people to feel the emotions my characters are feeling. So I keep reading and studying.

How about you? Do you have a problem with describing a certain emotion?

5 comments:

Karen Beeching said...

Yeah. Confusion. How many times can you get away with saying, "His brows drew together?"

I totally know what you mean, Carla. I write the book. Then on the second and third edits I get rid of the repetition and reach for the thesaurus. It's exhausting.

Naima said...

Okay, Carla, I'm going to need you not to laugh at this admission, considering I am a ROMANCE writer...my emotion is desire. Hear me out. Okay, the first time you mention how much the hero wants the heroine. Than how much she desires him. Than he hungers her. Than she yearns for him. Okay, that's four different words right there, but I have, what? 250 pages? You see my dilemma, right? So, like Karen, I hit the thesaurus all the time. Who am I kidding?? I work in Word with the thesaurus up as a thumbnail on the side of the screen!

Carla Swafford said...

Doesn't everyone keep the thesaurus open? Crap!

MaryF said...

Oh, me and my thesaurus are one..but I still have a lot of "gasping" going on. LOL

Naima said...

Gasp! Me, too!! LOL!