Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cool Blog Quote: Emotional Hide and Seek

I've been thinking a lot lately about creating emotions in my writing, since I think that's one of the big reasons why we read. I love this quote from Becca Puglisi over at The Bookshelf Muse:

"...we hide our emotions all the time. And this means our characters should, too."

Becca Puglisi, Hiding Emotions: Just Act Normal, The Bookshelf Muse, May 8, 2013

This is so tricky to capture in a story.

I sometimes show my characters trying act normal (see Becca's discussion of the Just Act Normal technique) but with tiny physical cues that hint at their underlying emotional state. (Thank you, Emotion Thesaurus.)

In the past, I've left it at that and assumed the reader would somehow interpret what I was trying to do. But the more I learn, the more I realize how important it is to make it obvious to the reader what emotion the character is feeling and trying to hide.

This underlines again why it's so important to let the reader in on the character's thoughts and feelings (what literary agent Mary Kole describes as interiority). Of course, this is tricky too, because it has to be done a subtle, polished way to avoid the blatant "She felt..." or "He thought..."


  1. I just read the ET before visiting yours, Andrea. It's a great post.

  2. I think we can sometimes do "such a good job" of showing that we're being too subtle. Readers may need stronger cues to the MC's emotions. One of my CPs likes to strip almost all the interiority out of my work (she doesn't like "analysis" or "angst"), but I only cut the parts where I agree with her. :)

    1. I think in my next work I may take the approach of being bolder and more obvious first, and then tone it back if necessary.


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