Sunday, February 23, 2014

Give Your Characters Emotions

Many of you may not know it, but I received my second round of edits on the 11th of February.  I had to mull the information over for a few days because they were the same as the first round edits, need more emotion, but with more details of what my editor wanted. 

Because of the problem I'm having with this story, I decided to re-read the comments my mentor made on previous works I had written.  Yikes!  I have had this trouble since the beginning of my writing career, so why is emotion so hard to write. 

The only thing I can think of is that we're taught at an early age to (try) control our emotions.  I remember being told for most of my life of being a toddler throwing a temper tantrum on the floor and having a glass of water thrown in my face.  My mom said it shocked me and stopped my tantrum. 

Okay, a story is easy to tell, but it's not always simple to show, or get deep into the character's thoughts.  I'm going to give you a couple of samples, and you tell me which one is the best. 

Sample 1:  The curly headed blonde two-year-old kicked her heels on the kitchen floor, screaming at the top of her lungs.  "No! No!" Tears streamed from her blue eyes down her round pink cheeks.

Sample 2:  The curly headed blonde toddler kicked her heels on the floor, her eyes and face scrunched in anger screaming.  "Stop this nonsense, Sandra," her mother said. She watched for a few seconds.  What can I do? She couldn't bear to spank her, or hurt this small being, but she needs discipline. She grabbed a glass and stuck it under the faucet filling it full. "I'm warning you young lady. This is your last chance." Without hesitation, she threw the water in her daughter's face.  Quiet!

These examples aren't perfect, but which one do you think works best?  In the first one, you see the child's anger, and in the second one you still see the child's anger, but you also feel the mother's frustration and desire not to hit her toddler.  Both show emotions, but one has more details and lets you know the child isn't alone. 

Thank you for reading.  Now, I must get back to my edits and do a lot more revising.  I'm so fortunate to have a great editor because when this story is ready to be published it will be super good. 

I forgot to tell you the title has changed from Hitting Bottom to All Bets Are Off, and really the new title is a better fit for the story. 

Have a great week, and I'll be back next Sunday.

Sandra K. Marshall, author @
Eirelander Publishing


Rose Anderson said...

Interesting post, Sandy. I agree, emotion can be hard. That might be why I prefer writing in first person. My emotion becomes my character's emotion. God luck on your edits. :)

amber polo said...

I have the same problem. In your examples it depends on the story. If you want to stress the mom the second works. But a kid can't know what it's the mom's head.

carol marshall said...

Emotion has to be heartfelt, making the reader think about the character. It can be empathetic emotion, passion emotion, or so many kinds of emotions and de poo ends on what senerio. Hard to give advice however if you email me your edits I may be able to help. My college proffesors said that I was very good at it. If I sttill have a paper with a lot of passion in it.

carol marshall said...

If I still have a paper I can emsil it later.

Jill James said...

Sandy, writing emotions is hard because you have to decide which emotion you want and how do you show that. Is the mom upset, does she shove the faucet on and ram that glass under the water? Is the mom upset and the glass shakes in her hand and against the metal of the faucet as she only fills it half-full, enough to stop her child but not drench her?

Good luck with your edits.

Kari Rogers Miller said...

Very Interesting Sandy...showing emotion on paper is a lot harder than showing emotion in person, that is for sure!

I could be looking at this wrong, but I think throwing a glass of water in a child's face is almost the same as the child's temper tantrum! Which and whose emotion is showing?

I know we were raised different growing up and I know I was spanked. And I spanked my children when they were little...I guess it could all be considered abuse and certainly plenty of showing emotion on both sides....but how to portray that emotion?

But I digress...I have to agree with depends on what emotion you are wanting to show...and then you can go to the degree of showing that particular emotion. If it is a mixture of emotions... than the Mother comes off looking like a crazy woman and the child simply the object of her emotions...

Good luck with your edits.

Sandy said...

Thank you, Rose. I have never tried writing in first person.

Thank you, Amber, and you're right. I was trying to show emotion through action and introspection.

Sandy said...

Thanks, Carol. Maybe, you should try writing a story.

Sandy said...

Thank you, Jill. You are, also, right about the mother.

Thanks, Kari. I think all the mother was trying to do was stop the tantrums without spanking. lol Sometimes, the shock factor works better than a spanking. It didn't bother me at all to get spanked because afterwards I was sent to my room, which was the object. Once in a great while it backfired on me because after the spanking my dad made me sit in the corner with my nose to the wall. lol Not fun because he watched me the whole time. lol

Melissa Keir said...

I like the new title. My son threw a huge tantrum when we were out to dinner one night. I ended up taking him out to the car to relax. Often we are frustrated and not able to share our feelings, which is why we act out.

I can see what you mean about how we've been taught to hide the emotions. I wish you much success with your edits.

Sandy said...

Thank you for stopping by, Melissa. I'm going to be working on edits and taxes today. lol

The Comeback Kid said...

The two year old curly blonde monster from hell started throwing a temper tantrum. She had clearly gotten up on the wrong side of the bed. Mom was fit to be tied as what to do. Without thinking, she grasped a straw and filled a glass with water and heaved in into the monster's face. The silence was golden.

Sandy said...

LOL Good one, Tom. A lot of mother's might think that, but some might be turned off by that mother.

K.T. Bishop said...

Emotions can be hit or miss with me, in these stories. But I need to show more