Writing for Emotion: An Overview

(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.

One thought on “Writing for Emotion: An Overview

  1. I am an author as well, of many diverse books which also convey numerous complexities of emotions, and their countless affirmmations and even “responces” to the mentioned. I think this article was well executed, because it exemplifies and conveys a numerously explicated testament, although abridged, about just how vital the expressions of emotion is in the realm of the solely written word. A great attempt in description and testification of the often overlooked, which as a spiritual leader, I applaud. A fellow author recognizes the necessitiy of this area that just cannot be taken and disfigured, but rather it was taken to bits; the way of deconstructionism is traditionally carried out.

    Her Holiness;
    The Most Venerable Lama Rimpoche,
    Miss Prof. Milkweed L. Augustine PhD DD
    author, artist, pacifist leader, religious leader

    Lama Milkweed L. Augustine PhD
    author of 14 books


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