Thursday, February 2, 2012


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?


  1. I know a lot of people use music but I can't when I'm writing. I just try to become the character. When I feel what they feel then I know I've got the scene right.

  2. I usually write with music because it really does cause emotions.

  3. Love that song! Music always inspires me as I plan and write a manuscript. Especially the songs that evoke an emotion so strongly. Great post!

  4. Excellent post Jenna. It is so true what you say about music. It does stir various emotions. Sometimes when I write I recall memories which have stirred me in a certain way and draw on that.

  5. I love this, bookmarked it. Thank you! Trying to generate emotion in my writing is something I'm trying to get better at right now. Lovely post!

  6. I absolutely love that song, perfect for describing emotion! I actually have a novel that I wrote while listening to this song - it was inspiring to me.

    Emotion - most of what I write is emotional journeys and sometimes I find that I think of how I would react in that situation. For an example, I wrote a scene where the main character was locked in a trunk - very hard to write from an emotional perspective, but it was very rewarding to get it written.

    Great post! :)

  7. nice post! I use music a lot, too, to get into a character's mood while writing. Also, I kind of go by the rule of thumb that if I can't feel it while I'm writing it, then no one else will, so I'd better re-write (or edit) until I've gotten it right :)

  8. Music is a great example. I have a hard time writing without music--it can set the mood or even speak of the character.

  9. Love this! I definitely agree that a big part of invoking emotion for your reader is keeping it simple. :) So many writers try to explain what's going on--but sometimes it's the simple words that come across the strongest.

    Anyway, just dropping by from the campaign to say hello! *waves*