Friday, January 21, 2011

EMOTION. It's What's For Dinner.

Hi Everyone!

Happy Friday ;o) Guess it's my turn around the double helix. No, I don't get tired of writing that ;o) LOL

So. Today I'm going to discuss EMOTION. It seems like such a simple concept, but so many times I'm reading a book and I realize why I don't care what's going on anymore. There's no emotion behind the character! Tragedy. I know. In fact, I've read my own drafts and realized that mine too, lacked emotion. "How did this happen?" I shout to no one in particular.

Well, easy. I concentrated on everything else and just skipped it.


Don't worry. I've gotten better. And if you're struggling with it. You can too ;o)

So. Let's start at the beginning...

What makes you want to read a book? It could be a gorgeous cover, a hook that kills, *swoon*worthy characters (I know that helps me pick one up). For me? All of the above. Okay, but what KEEPS me reading a book after the first fifty or so pages?

Voice is a huge one for me. But more important is how I feel. How I relate to the characters. Emotion is what keeps me reading. It makes me want, nay, NEED to be with this character the whole time, even through a maze of crap. If I don't care about the characters, then I don't care about the story.

Simple as that.

So, how do we get the right balance of emotion in our stories? Good Question. I'll share with you what I've done to help my writing... and then you can share what worked for you! Yay!

Win, Win, "Win," chimes Pam from The Office.

Read other books. One that completely hooked me and made me weep like a child without candy was THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson. So good.

Emotion is universal. Everyone feels it. So if you don't have that in your novel - the plot, the arc, won't matter. When you're reading a scene, what is it you remember about it? Do you remember the color of the walls? Only if the walls reminded you of something. What about the action? Only if it affected the character in some way. It all ties together.

Dig deep, pull from all facets of your own life and go back. It can be hard. A friend of mine told me to try that. She said it would help my writing. And boy did it ever.

When you go back to the memory that affected you so deeply. Remember everything about it. How did you feel when it happened? What was going on around you? Once you write it down, change roles with your character, using your character's background, character's influences.

And then *Poof* I'm reading your book sniffling as bad as when I watched Beaches for the fiftieth time.

I still struggle with this a lot. But the more I really delve into my heart and my characters' hearts it shows on the page, err screen.

So you've done all that.  Anything else out there to help me? Why, yes there is.

A great resource if you're looking for something to help you find your character's emotion is a fantabulous blog by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi called The Bookshelf Muse. Have you seen this? It's chocked-full of great info on emotion, symbolism, even settings & colors, shapes.

So there's my take on it. What do you think? How do you create emotion in your stories?

Wanna know how to do EMOTION? Watch This. **Warning, swearing, strong content, triggering images, and NSFW. Please note: This blog does not endorse Perez Hilton or his blog, even if he's the ONLY one we could find that didn't censor the crap out of this video.

Now go out there, dig deep and put it in your book!

erica m. chapman is a YA writer by night, workin' for the cause by day. Fan of football, especially Lions and Michigan. She loves alternative music, animals, reading, golf and playing her guitar. She resides in Michigan, AKA the frozen tundra, where she sits quietly typing her next story on her macbook in her Detroit Lions Snuggie. You can also find her at

Pic credit: 


  1. Yes, this is a big thing that I'm constantly telling my editing clients! The story can be good, but if it doesn't connect with the reader on a deeper level, they won't be apt to recommend it to others.

  2. So true, Cass. I struggled with this, but at least now I have an idea ;o)

  3. This is an area I always struggle with while writing. Great suggestions and post! :D

  4. Thanks, Brenda ;o) Oh, I think you're better than you think! I felt emotion in your story!

  5. These are great ways to get in touch with real emotion and create that intensity in writing. Thanks so much for the mention, Erica!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  6. Agreed! I sometimes feel a disconnect when reading, and it's almost always linked back to lack of emotion. Nice post Erica!

  7. Great post! I'm working on emotion now since my MC is a little snarky. She really cares, she just doesn't let other people see that, so I need to make sure the reader understands.

  8. Love this post! It's frustrating when I love the plot/idea of a book more than the characters. I don't want anyone to feel that way about my work. Thanks for the tips :)

  9. Thanks, Brandi ;o) It is frustrating. It's always nice to find a good balance. If only it were that easy! LOL

  10. Great post, Erica!! And you made me cry!!! I'd never seen that video before!!!