Emotional Rescue: How to Write Emotion

Not giving advice here, folks–asking for it!

I suck at the emotional stuff. There, I’ve said it. I blame my upbringing (not from a touchy-feeling kinda family), my personality (reserved, shy-bordering-on-reclusive), and my occupation (in journalism and public relations, one’s lack of visible emotion is something to be praised). In writing fiction? Not so praiseworthy.

Here’s my problem. I can show emotion via physical response–hearts pounding, nerves on edge, blah, blah, blah–but that really only gets you so far. When I get inside my characters’ heads and start probing around for their emotions and letting them spill onto the page, I feel–hell, I feel all melodrama and soap opera. Hate that. Purple ink.

So I’m trying to find the fine line between death-by-emo and emotional void.  Suggestons? Tips? Tricks? Anyone else have this problem?

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban and paranormal fantasy and romantic suspense, currently living in Auburn, Alabama. Author of the Sentinels of New Orleans series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, and Belle Chasse (Nov 2016). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the upcoming Wilds of the Bayou series (Book 1, Wild Man's Curse) releases April 2016).

6 thoughts on “Emotional Rescue: How to Write Emotion

  1. Hey, FF&P is doing a workshop called How to Write Emotion. It just started today so if you hurry over, you can probably still get in.

  2. I’m in it! I’m hoping workshop leader Laurie Sanders can whip me into shape 🙂 She has her work cut out for her, though.

  3. An author spoke on this topic once as he had been an actor in stage plays, and had to show emotions. Tears were part of one of the scenes, and at first, he could dredge them up over his dog having died. But then, they were gone. And he had to continually think of other sad events that helped him “feel” the emotion. When something happens that gives you joy,or makes you grieve, or wears you out, take notes. Sometimes you can use these experiences adapted to your story. 🙂 Good luck!

  4. An author spoke on this topic once as he had been an actor in stage plays, and had to show emotions. Tears were part of one of the scenes, and at first, he could dredge them up over his dog having died. But then, they were gone. And he had to continually think of other sad events that helped him “feel” the emotion. When something happens that gives you joy,or makes you grieve, or wears you out, take notes. Sometimes you can use these experiences adapted to your story. 🙂 Good luck!

  5. Great advice, Terry. Hard to dredge up those painful episodes, but it would be a great way to channel some deep feelings, especially sadness. Now, anxiety and stress I can do 🙁