How Do I Add Emotion To My Fiction? by Lisa Hall-Wilson - Canada
Part of the power of deep point of view (I think) is diving deep into emotions in a way that’s both specific and unique to the character and universal to the reader. Some writers focus more on what’s happening than on what’s being felt. I fall into this category. I have to put the emotions in during edits. Here are the steps that have really helped me.
We’re continuing in our FAQ series on Deep POV. The question that came in was: “I’ve been told my novel is dry. Plenty of action, low on emotion. How do I add more emotion?”
These comments are hard to get from editors and beta readers, because you just want to throw up your hands (at least I do) – I DID add emotions. Perhaps this is partly personality based, I’m not one to openly express emotions in real life very often, so it just doesn’t come naturally to my writing. It’s something I’ve had to learn and compensate for. I’m more likely to restrict the emotion to the dialogue in a first draft — which isn’t nearly deep enough for readers.
What Is The Scene Goal?
Whether you’re a plotter or pantser, you reach a point where you have have to look at each chapter/scene as a whole and ask: what does my character want in this scene? What are they trying to accomplish?
Whatever your character’s story problem is – the big, takes-the-whole-story-to-solve problem, each chapter is your character’s next step in solving that problem. Have a clearly defined scene goal and know whether your character doesn’t get what they want or whether they get what they want, but they no longer want it.
Frank is notified he’s inherited $100,000 from his great aunt Martha, but the will stipulates he must be in L.A. by Friday morning for the will reading to collect his inheritance. Frank’s first step in solving his story problem is to get on a plane in New York for L.A, but his plane has mechanical issues and gets rerouted to Atlanta. He can’t get on a flight to L.A. til Friday noon.
Frank must now make a decision about what he’s going to do next to solve his story problem. Is Frank the kind of character who’s ruled by his emotions, uses his emotions to inform his actions, or does he completely suppress his emotions and rely entirely on logic?
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