Watching my son graduate from basic training was one of the proudest moments of my life. I couldn't take enough pictures. I'm sure my grin was as wide as possible, and my eyes were full of tears. Two days later, I couldn't seem to get rid of the empty feeling in my heart -- tears were always on the verge of falling and I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster, I missed him so much.
I spent some of my travel time (the trip was 17 hours, one way) trying to come up with ideas for my blogs this week, knowing I'd have to come up with two pretty quickly. Since our blog focuses on writing, the pros and cons, the ups and downs, I figured this was a good time to talk about emotions in our writing.
There are many moments when writing a story that you need to have characters show emotion. In a thriller, there needs to be suspense, anxiety, fear, and sweat. In a romance, one expects the thumping heart, shaky hands and fluttery stomachs. In action stories, a reader plans on to see racing pulses, excitement and the wonder of what's around the next bend.
As a reader experiences the emotions of the character, he is drawn into the story -- more involved with what is happening. If what the character is experiencing doesn't reach out to the reader, then the story is going to seem shallow and not worth delving any further.
I wrote a short story a year or so ago that turned into a longer one. I presented it to my critique group for reading a month or so ago, and one of the responses I got was "It's too hard to read. The emotions are too strong." While in some ways that's not good, it was exactly what I was trying to achieve. I wanted the reader to be caught up in the emotions of the character and what he was going through. Obviously it's not going to reach everyone, but for those it does come to, they'll get my point.
In experiencing this past weekend and the emotions of a mother with all the conflicting feelings of pride and sorrow, I knew that it was something many of us feel and would understand, something I can use in future writing.
It's just going to have to be something farther down the road so that I can see without having to wipe the tears every five minutes...