In my writing class, we talked about emotion a few class periods ago. How we accomplish making our reader, our characters, even ourselves feel.
I think that emotion can be one of the hardest parts for writers to accomplish, and it's the most important. All of the books that you read over and over again, that leave you anticipating for the sequel, crying when the series is over, it's all from the emotional tie you as a reader have to the book. There's a lot that comes into play with this, characters and plot, mainly, but the actual writing itself can be the most difficult. You don't want to sound too emo or sappy or hateful.
So as I questioned how we as writers can do this, I thought about music. Generally speaking, the lyrics that move us the most aren't overly emo or sappy or hateful (at least, for me they're not). Just look at these lyrics:
From Where You Are by Lifehouse
"I miss the years that were erased
I miss the way the sunshine would light up your face
I miss all the little things
I never thought they'd mean everything to me
Yeah I miss you
And I wish you were here"
This set of lyrics gives us a specific image by saying "I miss the way the sunshine would light up your face." You can see it. You can see a loved one's face tilted up to the sun, a smile, the happy feeling that's now been taken away. The absence of that happy feeling is what makes it hurt the most. These lyrics are so simply stated they make a big impact. There's no great metaphor for how he feels life is a black hole and there's no more joy in his life. It just simply says "I miss you and I wish you were here." How much more powerful is this than a hyperbole of depression?
Now, when I write emotion, I try to think of a great song that makes me feel in a similar way. Getting down to the sentence-level I've found has really helped me.
How do you try to bring out emotion in your reader?