How To Create 3-D Emotional Depth In Fiction by Lisa Hall-Wilson - Canada
Mis à jour : 28 août 2019
Adding emotional depth to a scene, often in the revision stage, can be hard because you’ve written it as you pictured it in your head, right. However, sometimes what’s in your head isn’t what comes across on the page. How frustrating! Try creating a 3-D effect for readers and using sensory details to convey motive/goals/priorities, and emotions.
Before You Turn To The Sensory Details…
Yes, sensory details are going to be important, but first thing’s first. For deep point of view, you must become the main character in each scene. You’re not a passive third-party observer, a movie-goer in a theatre seat – you are the main character. This small tweak to how your brain captures the scene is very helpful.
Now, what’s your character’s goal in this scene? What do they want to happen? What are they trying to acheive? What’s at stake? What’s their worst case scenario? Jot all this down if you need to. This is your character’s WHY and it will be the filter through which all the other details are seen through.
List 5 Things Your Character Can See
This is actually a twist on a grounding exercise for those struggling with PTSD, anxiety, etc. Close your eyes and become your main character for a moment. Remind yourself of their WHY – what are they desperate to find, get to, rescue, overcome, etc.
List 5 things your character can see. What are the first five things your character notices about the setting? Remember, readers do 90% of the work with description. If I write that my pretty female MC has pulled the handsome male MC she’s been crushing on into a dark office and made a point of locking the door behind her. She reaches for the buttons on her blouse and he reaches for the blinds.
What are the first 5 things she sees? Here’s my guess: his body posture, the desk he’s leaning back against, the way his fingers curl around the edge of the desktop, the light coming into the office under the locked door, the file marked TOP SECRET on his desk.
Adding Layers Of Sensory Details To Show Emotional Depth
Sight is the primary sense writers use and that’s totally understandable, but we have other senses that take in information that influences our decisions and interpretations of things. You’ve written down the character’s WHY, and the first five things the character sees in this scene. (What she notices or searches for hints at her WHY.)
List 4 things she can hear: the metallic rasp of the blinds against the office windows, the muted footsteps and murmurs of colleagues passing by the office, the crunch of papers under his backside, the sharp intake of his breath.
List 4 things she can touch: the hard smooth buttons on her blouse, the soft silk of her blouse, the stiff utilitarian carpet under her toes, the restrictive watch band on her wrist ticking away the time…
List 3 things she can smell: his cologne or aftershave, the lingering scent of her own shampoo, the sharp popcorn odour from the microwave in the office across the fall.