The other day someone I thought was a friend did something that made me angry, left me feeling betrayed, and extremely insulted.
I was plenty ticked. And hurt. And irritated.
So after the wave of anger passed and the pity party shut down, I decided what I really needed to do was record how the whole experience made me feel. Not so I can look back and get mad all over again. But because it will help me in my writing when I need to summon up those emotions for a character.
For example, let’s say I’m writing a chapter in a story about someone who was just betrayed by her best friend. Shouldn’t be that hard to wrangle up the feelings. Except I just had lunch with my best friend and we had a great time. It is going to be hard to dig into those emotions of betrayal and pain and loss at that moment when I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum.
So I’m setting a new goal for myself to record my emotions and reactions to situations as quickly as I can while I am still feeling and reacting so I can bring greater detail and depth to my characters.
Think about a situation that has made you blistering mad.
How did you react physically? Did your hands sweat, your heart race, your head pound? Did your chest hurt? Was it hard to breathe? Did your vision become narrowed? Did your jaw clench?
How did you react emotionally and mentally? Did you cry? Did you want to run and hide? Did you yell? Sigh? Want to pound something? Did your heart hurt?
Think about a situation that made you happy. Then go through the same line of questioning… How did you react physically, emotionally, mentally?
Record all that information and see if it doesn’t help you give your characters depth.
I know I’m going to be working on it!