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Lack of Emotion… Not anymore!

Hello Everyone,

I hope you are having a lovely Tuesday ;o) All is well here. I got a double bowling last night, and didn’t play like total crap! Yay, be thankful for the small things in life, right? Ha.

Well, I’ve been revising my current MS and I’ve noticed a real lack of something…

What is that, you say?
Emotion.

I didn’t even think about it until I started to re-write a particularly emotional scene. I tweeted about it, and of course my Crit partner Jamie over at The Variety Pages, and a few others offered their advice about what to do. I didn’t know what the MS was lacking. Duh, right? Well Jamie suggested I think about what I was like as a teenager – scary huh?

So I did.

I went back to the flannel wearing, Pearl Jam & Nirvana listening, drama filled attitude, poetry writer with no outward emotion, but inside was stewing like a wicked brew, teenage me. And you know what?
It worked.
So I went back to the beginning of the MS and I’m re-reading all the scenes to make sure they have some emotion in them. I can’t believe I forgot about that. I was so worried about the plot, the story, dialogue, descriptions etc. that I didn’t think about the motivation of the characters, their emotion.
Have you ever got caught up in the mechanics and forgot the emotion? Have you forgotten anything in a first draft?
I hope everyone is having a great day! The doggie was spayed and now we have to watch her every minute to make sure she doesn’t lick at the incision – Wish us luck :o)

35 Responses to “Lack of Emotion… Not anymore!”

  1. Iapetus999 says:

    Good catch.

    I definitely have the same issue with my WIP. Just be careful not to “tell” the emotion:
    She felt bad that he said mean things.
    NO! Show it using body language or inner dialog
    She balled her fists, wondering what kind of torture awaited say-anything jocks in hell.
    See? Never mentioned any emotion there at all, but the emotion is clear. 🙂

  2. Eric says:

    I love your image for this post. Hilarious.

    I also had to laugh at this:

    Have you ever got caught up in the mechanics and forgot the emotion? Have you forgotten anything in a first draft?

    You mean we’re supposed to pay attention to the mechanics? That’s probably my biggest failing point. I don’t know that I get the emotion in there all the time, but I’m sure I’m lacking in the mechanics department. And as to forgetting stuff, if my current WiP is any indication, I’m terrible at forgetting stuff (or ommiting stuff) in the first draft.

  3. Um…yeah. Elana J. read our first version of Pemberly Brown and that was her biggest word of advice. And you know what, it totally worked. Thanks for the reminder as we get ready to write the second!

  4. Erica says:

    Andrew- Fabulous advice. My problem is never telling too much, in fact I don’t tell at all, need to up that a little, but not with the emotion of course ;O)

    Eric – I know I loved it too – so funny! Well I’m certainly not perfect in the mechanics either, but I do pay attention to them ;o) I’m sure you add it all back in the 2nd draft though ;o)

    LiLa – Oh glad it’s not just me! Can’t wait to read Pemberly Brown when it comes out!! Good luck with the 2nd – delving back in huh – have fun :o)

  5. Melissa says:

    Well, I’m still in the first draft, but I recently went back over what I’ve already written. OMG at the stuff I have to fix! I even introduced a character at the beginning who was supposed to show up again and I sort of forgot about her. So I’ve got to figure out a way to bring her back or just delete her altogether.

  6. My husband just told me that the other day. I had him review my WIP and he told me it didn’t have enough emotion and my characters needed stronger voices.

    Thanks for the post. 🙂

  7. Anissa says:

    I think emotion is one of the most difficult things to get into a novel. It has to be real and not contrived, or the reader sees right through it. Good job recognizing the problem and correcting it!

  8. Erica says:

    Melissa – I know exactly what you mean. I’m in the 2nd draft, but just the top of it. It’s easy to forget that stuff when you’re in the groove right? :o)

    Shannon – Ah, yes, what’s strange is I always thought it would be the structure I had issues with. I guess you can’t predict what you’re going to be good at :o)

    Anissa – Oh I agree – it needs to be real and sincere for that character. Thank you! I can’t believe I made it this far without seeing it. Woops! LOL :o)

  9. Angela says:

    I do this all the time. I find the emotions come stronger after I get past the mechanics–once that’s out of the way i can better concentrate on showing what I need to show, emotion wise.

  10. Erica says:

    Angela – I can’t even imagine you having a hard time with emotion! You have some many great posts on your blog about it :o)

    Yes once the mechanics are out of the way it is easier – at least that’s what I’m finding :o)

  11. Personal experience can help a writer in bringing his or her characters to life. If crafted the right way, a single emotion can reach out to a reading audience unlike any other aspect.

    Good luck with your rewrite!

    The Bokheim Chu

  12. Erica says:

    Bookheim Chu – I totally agree, I think it’s finding that moment that will be a challenge for me to write ;o)

    Thanks so much!

  13. I definitely have problem with emotions. I am painfully aware of it in my WIP, and know that I really need get into characters’ heart to show their feelings.

  14. Jen says:

    Yay for bowling!!! I suck!!!

    Ugh I hate when I forget an important part of the story! You’ll get there!!!

    Poor doggie!!! Good Luck! They are terrible at times!

  15. Erica says:

    LW – I’m sorry, it’s frustrating isn’t it? Good luck to you :o)

    Jen – Thanks for the encouragement! They definitely can be – she’s exhausting!!

  16. Natalie says:

    Yup, I think the key to writing good emotional scenes is the same as the key to good writing in general, “show not tell.” I sometimes tell too much of the emotion “she was angry,” instead of showing her anger through her actions. The story can be so much stronger with great shown emotion.

  17. Erica says:

    Natalie – I totally agree show not tell is the best way to convey the emotion to its fullest. Now to figure out how to do it… LOL :o)

  18. Difficulty with describing emotions, rather than writing about the passions themselves, is a common roadblock for many writers. Renaissance artists employed a technique using mirrors by way they would draw/paint self-portraits, or when they needed to find a specific emotion. Some writers who attempt this find that it assists them in learning how an emotion looks and feels. When you are writing, try to bring to life in your words the emotions you personally feel when you are looking at a face that is sad, happy, full of joy, loving or angry. Do not focus on the actions or the intended character’s feelings (unless it is called for), but instead on what you personally would feel looking at or being around this individual.

    You may find that trying this not only makes it easier for you to show emotional scenes, but it may also help you find other angles with separate interacting characters. Do not be afraid to try out any idea or angles with your writing, it may work out better than you could have hoped it would. Best of luck!

    The Bokheim Chu

  19. Erica says:

    Bookheim Chu – Wow! That is fabulous information. Thank you very much. That’s a great idea and may be just what I need!

    Thanks for sharing your valuable insight :o)

  20. I had the opposite problem in my ms. My betas told me it was a little melodramatic in some places. I’ve had to really tone down the emotion. Now, guess what, they tell me I need to show more emotion. I’m laboring to find a middle ground.

  21. Although I’m not a fan of melodrama, I *am* a fan of angst – and angst is often all about emotion. For me, fulfilling a scene’s emotional needs always comes down to knowing my characters backwards and forwards. Then it’s just a matter of letting them loose on the page.

  22. The first draft always ends up being bare bones it seems for me. I learn more and more about my characters as I go that more drafts are always necessary!!!

  23. Erica says:

    Susan – Oh man, I hope you find a nice middle ground! Revising is kinda crazy isn’t it? Good Luck to you!

    KM – That’s a great point – I definitely need to make sure I know my characters before delving into the emotional factor – thanks for the tip :o)

    Eileen – You know, I’m finding that too – this is draft 2 for me, and I am seeing more about them :o)

  24. It’s great to have a diverse group of critiquers…Then you get lots of POVs which makes your writing stronger.

    Good post!

  25. Erica says:

    Sharon – I totally agree – I’ll have my sister read it after the 2nd draft – she’s twenty, right around the age I’m hoping will like it!

    Thank you :o)

  26. The emotion is the hardest thing for me to capture. I don’t want to insert too much, you know? It’s one of the last things I do. I call it my Emotional Pass. And then I send it to my crit buddy who is an expert in emotion and she tells me where I’m off (too much or not enough). Then I do another pass.

    It’s emotionally exhausting! Ha!

  27. Erica says:

    Elana – Oh I know! It’s the hardest for me too, and my Beta buddies are brilliant at it! Emotional Pass – that’s great. I’m adding it in here and there, but I too will have to make an Emotional Pass again.

    It’s totally exhausting, but worth it :o)

  28. Love how you jump-started your emotions. Nirvana would do it. lol.
    Good luck to you and the pup!

  29. Regan says:

    So excited to read. That is all… 🙂

  30. Erica says:

    Karen – Thank you! Yes Nirvana is sooo good! Thanks – she has a cone now :o(

    Regan – You’re so sweet! Thanks :o)

  31. Tom Bailey says:

    “I went back to the flannel wearing, Pearl Jam & Nirvana listening, drama filled attitude, poetry writer with no outward emotion, but inside was stewing like a wicked brew, teenage me. And you know what?

    It worked”

    Funny how sometimes the things that work would not be what one would expect to work. For some reason this sentence made me laugh really hard.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Tom Bailey

  32. Cammie says:

    I’ve just given you a (2nd) Superior Scribbler Award …

  33. Erica says:

    Tom – thank you! Glad I could make you laugh ;o)

    Cammie – Oh thank you!

  34. Diana Paz says:

    Have I told you I love your blog? Great post on emotion, and good luck with your pup!!

  35. Erica says:

    Diana – You’re so sweet – thank you! Thanks, we’re ready to get this over with ;o)

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