Showing character emotions – research sources – Part 1

Nuance, nuance, nuance. The writer’s job is to cause emotion in the reader. Period.

Understanding emotions is the underlying motive for all storytelling, a skill necessary for humans to live in groups. A learned skill, with presets for understanding built into most babies. A problem for people who don’t pick up – or consciously ignore – social cues.

And one of the reasons, again, that there are few writing prodigies – and the few who manage to convey emotions in writing are handling very basic human emotions, not complex ones (IMHO).

***CAUTION: I’m going to talk about how – but I can’t show you yet how it turns out, because I have to USE my own research to finish the scenes – so don’t get annoyed at me after I write about the research and the techniques – and don’t provide an example. Yet.***

The scenes being edited:

In Chapter 11, Scene 1, Grant lets escape that Andrew is spending time at Kary’s house – and knows more about her life than one would presume to know about a mere acquaintance.
Grant: “But that doesn’t mean I can’t wish for peace, does it?” he said, turning back to Kary and taking her hand. “Andrew says you have no one for miles.”

Add into the mix that Andrew feels this as a betrayal (the previous scene is in HIS point of view (pov), and HE thinks):

my fault?He’d told Grant where to find him as a matter of courtesy; he’d never thought to ask Grant to keep it secret. Hindsight

Switch scene and pov to Bianca, who is VERY interested in Andrew, and has been wondering why she isn’t making any headway with him.

Now the question is to write the end of one scene and the beginning of the next to SHOW that Andrew feels Grant’s revelation as a betrayal of a confidence (but is angry at himself for not saying it was a confidence – since he didn’t realize he had to), and to have Bianca PICK UP that Andrew feels betrayed – and angry at himself, and to get a hint at why.

A complicated situation – the writing isn’t the problem. The problem is SHOWING, by Andrew’s body language (since he doesn’t actually say anything), that he feels betrayed – so that Bianca has something to pick up on.

Research – any place to start:

When I’m faced with this kind of a writing problem, one of the things I go to is writing books on showing character emotions (such as Creating Character emotions, Ann Hood).
Another is books on understanding yourself and your own emotions (we are rarely unique), such as Reading People, Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, Ph.D., and Mark Mazzarella.

And books on negotiation – How negotiate anything, Cohen.

There are many other books – I have a bunch on my iPad. I have a tendency to crash through them picking up bits (which I store in the PC’s Scrivener Research sections. I am VERY careful to copy

1) the site name,

2) any author identifying date, and

3) the URL.

I ALSO put quotes around the material I copy from these sites: I have no desire to plagiarize anyone through carelessness.

I learn so much about myself in the process…

(To be continued – Part 2.)


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