We live in a universe of feelings— anger, frustration, and love. The list continues with innumerable emotions. We are certainly not Vulcans, the characters of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek who control their emotions so well they display none. We display ours like trophies. Humanity uses and becomes embroiled in the moods of individuals.
Several single people grouped together, are called a crowd. If their emotions turn ugly, they become a mob. Then, the feelings become exacerbated, feeding off the wild and angry temperaments, swirling, mixing in dangerous and unpredictable ways.
The world saw the results of such a thing in South Korea this last fortnight when the tragic stampede in a night spot killed several.
Emotions sometimes get the best of us, and they certainly rate as one of humanity’s hazards. We live in a swirl of feelings, navigating here and beyond, always tossed about in a storm. Each person has to exert their control, and if they cannot find the discipline, they end up living in a dust devil of their emotions.
Unfortunately, with emotions and feelings, the little buggers control us most of the time. It does depend on the person as to how much they can control — whirlwind or wafting breeze.
It cannot be obvious. All that turmoil and baggage swirling in every direction throughout and about. It’s when life and love become dicey with strong emotion that they become … interesting.
Writing emotions can be dicey as hell, what with all of the things we do regarding our feelings—what a quandary. Whole books contain ways and techniques to write effective emotions. One of my favorite ways is to show two emotions at a time. The technique is one I read in a book years ago. But truthfully, my belief stems from my study of performance acting.
I had a double major in college. I’ve talked ad nauseam about my learning in music—this time, I find the need to talk about my other major, theatre. Yes, I know, that is the British spelling. I prefer it. I don’t know why.
Anyway, I had an emphasis on training as an actor. Oh, there were loads of classes in technical theatre — lighting design, set construction, stage management, stage make-up, etcetera. I enjoyed all of them, but I was most familiar with the slew of acting and performance classes. Thery involved hours of practice and an enormous number of plays and productions where skills became refined.
The problem of displaying emotions and getting them across to an audience as an accurate portrayal is tough. The most effective way is to hold back the emotion that needs to be displayed. It sounds like a bowl of crap, but it’s not. An example is in order here: let’s begin with the character as angry, and to show that, we must hold that anger back. So, let’s say our character tries to hit the other character, but he stops mid-swing. You can then see the tension in the attacking actor’s body without them saying they are angry. We know it without anyone uttering a word about it. It is as though reason or fear jumped in the way and wrestled for sanity.
That other emotion or reason coupled with emotion, say jealousy or revenge stepped in to display the emotion—two emotions at war ending with one controlling the other. Not only does it display an emotion or two, but it shows with a more in-depth character.
So, how do we show emotion in writing?
It can roll out like this:
Doris is an addict in recovery. The day has been stressful — her asshole of a boss browbeat Doris all day at work; Larry, her husband, yelled and screamed at her and even pushed Doris around her kitchen. As she drove her son Timmy home from school, there was an accident, Timmy was hurt. She snatched her purse from the floor of the wreckage and jumped in the ambulance to ride with the little guy as paramedics spirited Timmy to the hospital.
But once there, the medical team asked Doris to leave the room to give the responders space to work. As she leaves, she sees the nurse grimacing and shaking her head.
A cold feeling settles through Doris sitting in the waiting room. She grabs her purse and opens it as she walks outdoors for a smoke. Damn it, no smokes. Shit! She’d accidentally picked up an old purse, probably hidden in the car, and knocked loose in the accident. She snapped the purse shut, but just as she did, her eye caught sight of a….
She peeled the bag back open — a small bag of cocaine.
The old craving crawled through her like a cockroach carrying the welcome snort. She stared. Relief was right there. Her body craved that give-a-damn feeling of an incredible high.
She reached for the bag, and the nurse leaned in through the door. “We need you in here.”
That feeling in her nose and on her gums. Oh, God.
Doris closed her eyes. The memory of her son riding in the ambulance sprang to mind. What about Timmy?
He just laid there. Doris’s vision filled her mind. Oh, Timmy.
But the bag. Doris’s heartbeat sped up. It thumped in her chest. She glanced at the door, stood, then inside the bag. It was hard to breathe. She let her breath escape, and ….
To complete the scenario, we need to decide which emotion should dominate. Which should come out on top, agonizing or euphoric? Which do you think?
Whatever Doris chooses will set the tone for the story, at least for the next chapter or two, maybe the entire book. By the way, I find the wider the distance between the two emotions the deeper the emotions are shown. What do you think?
Emotions swirl everywhere, kicking us, goading us on, and creating all sorts of messes. It’s what they do.
So, have you investigated buying my book? It is getting close to the holidays. Great gifts, books. Check out Indies United Publishing House many great reads there, of any genre. I published Recall through them; they have excellent books. I’ve read several. You can always check out Goodreads and Amazon’s reviews. In the meantime, check out my book, The Great Zero-Sum.
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