ACFW Rewind: Keeping an Emotional Journal

ACFW Advice, Authors and writing, tips, writing Leave a Comment

It’s ACFW Rewind time. Today we’ve picked a blog from May, 2010. Enjoy this post on emotional writing.

by Cathy Bryant

Emotions. They run the gamut from elation to depression, overwhelming joy to unspeakable sorrow, hatred to love. Need more? How about anxiety, tenderness, compassion, apathy, sympathy, confusion, suspicion, curiosity, surprise, excitement, guilt, fear, restlessness, gratitude, and loneliness?

The stories we write are about people, and all of us share in these human emotions. To make your characters realistic, they must portray layers of emotion.

And to make life even more interesting, we can feel opposite emotions simultaneously. Have you ever felt happy and sad at the same time? Hatred and love? Contrasting those feelings against each other in your stories is like showing the purity of white against black shadows in a painting.

Readers love stories that express emotion. Those who like suspense novels love the fear and curiosity stories invoke. They like having their pulse beat a little faster and their breathing become rapid and shallow. Those who enjoy love stories get a charge from the happily ever after at the end of the story and every obstacle the hero and heroine have to overcome to get there.

So as writers, our job is to give the reader an emotional experience.

One thing that has helped me in writing emotions is my personal journal. I’m not an everyday journal-er. Instead, I tend to write about momentous and joyous occasions. And my other entries? Those times I’m hurting, frustrated, and depressed.

Need to liven up a scene a little bit? Revisit your journals. Just by reading your entries you’ll re-experience the emotions. Once you’ve reconnected with those feelings, it’s much easier to write them into your story. You might even want to keep a database of various emotions and phrases that help bring the emotions alive on the page.

A Texas gal by birth, Cathy Bryant lives in an East Texas farmhouse with her husband and a phobia-ridden cat. Her debut novel, TEXAS ROADS, was a 2009 Genesis finalist. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter, or at her blog, WordVessel.

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