(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)
This is the introduction to a Tuesday series on writing with reader and character emotion in mind. Instead of jumping straight into discussion of strategy, it would make sense to have a definition of emotion so that we are all on the same page (so to speak). To do this, I put the question to my sister who is in her final year of school for her doctorate in clinical psychology. Basically…
What makes an emotion an emotion? An emotion is a visceral response. It is not logical, it is instinctive. An emotion has three components: body and behaviors (examples include heart rate, pupil dilation, sweating), cognitive (the thoughts), and feeling. Feeling is the perception of the experience (“happy”, “sad”, “jealous”).
I’d add that an emotion is always an agitation — a stirring up, a disturbing — from our neutral points in all three areas: physical, affective, and cognitive. Like a finger touching still water creates ripples, the events of your story can disturb the emotions of your readers and/or your characters.
Character emotions are not the same as reader emotions. We will look at ways to do each in isolation and both together. But first, we will look broader and deeper than the individual scene. Next week, we will look at emotional impact and story concept.
Next Tuesday, we will look at emotional impact and story concepts.