Friday, May 10, 2013

Describing Through Emotion


Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books for teens in lots of weird genres like, fantasy (Blood of Kings trilogy), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website.

When you're working on description, don't forget the use of emotion. How your character feels will influence his words, thoughts, and actions. Have you ever been happy and went outside and noticed the lovely weather? Somehow everything is so much more beautiful. Hello, beautiful sun! Hello, cute little deer in my yard!” But if you're angry ... Stupid sun is going to give me a sunburn. Stupid deer are going to poo all over my yard and I'm going to have to clean it up.

Am I right?

I've written the following scene from my current work in process, Abuscade (Mission League Mini-Mission 2.5) using three different emotions for Spencerworried, angry, and happy. Check it out. Doing this is one way to help you get deeper into the scene, and, if you're not sure if the scene is working, it can help you see if from some other angles.


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WORRIED


There was no afternoon League today because of finals, so I ran over to Pilot Point High to check on Grace. I stepped into the old gym and was greeted by sneakers squeaking on wood and girls' chanting voices. 

Hey! Hey! Let’s do it again!
Everybody yell, GO FIGHT WIN!
Go, Fight, Win! Do it again!
Go, Fight, Win! GO, FIGHT, WIN!

The loud sounds put me more on edge. Please let her be here. Please. I scanned the gym and spotted Grace on the far left. She seemed okay. She was jumping and doing all the motions along with everyone else. 
“Spencer!” Jasmine Jacobs ran up to me and gave me a hug that smelled like the middle of Macy’s.
“Hey, Jas,” I said, but I kept my eyes on Grace. Was that a limp or had she just stumbled? 
Jasmine poked me in the ribs, which kind of tickled. “Why haven’t you texted me lately?”
I stepped away from her, not wanting to be distracted until I knew Grace was okay. “You want me to text you?” I had no idea what to say to that. Why wouldn't she just go away?
“Yee-ah.” She slapped my chest and yelled, “Grace, your boyfriend’s here!”
That got my attention. “Don’t do that,” I whispered, but Jasmine just giggled and yelled again. “Gracie Lou Who, your boyfriend’s here for you!”
Across the gym I heard Grace mumble, “He’s not my boyfriend.”
I sighed. Story of my life, really. But at least nothing had injured Grace's tongue.
I paced there for ten minutes, wearing a groove into the floor before Grace finally came over.
She had that look on her face, like I was some stray dog she couldn't figure out how to lose. “Hey, stalker,” she said.
“Hey, tumbelina. You missed class this morning.” I couldn't tell if she was wearing more makeup than normal.
“Checking up on me again, huh?”
“Naw, I just wanted to say hey.” And see if there were any bruises on your face. I shifted to get a better look at the back of her neck. I didn't see any, but the lighting in here was pretty bad.
“Spencer, look. I like you. But I’m not ready for a boyfriend right now. I’m just … there’s a lot going on …”
Oh, come on. My face got all hot. She didn't understand. She thought I was just trying to hook up. “I don’t want to be your boyfriend. Just your friend.” And keep you from getting hurt.
“Spencer, even my best friends don’t show up at my cheer practices.”
Point taken. “Well, you didn't come to class this morning, so I was worried about you.”
She folded her arms. “Why are you always worried about me? I might not be able to bench my own body weight like you, but do I look like an invalid?”
“No.” I supposed it was time to tell her. Spill my guts and hope I didn't look like more of a freak than she already thought I was. “Okay, this will probably sound weird. But ...


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ANGRY

There was no afternoon League today because of finals, so I stormed over to Pilot Point High to talk to Grace. I barged into the old gym and was greeted by sneakers squeaking on wood and girl’s chanting voices. 

Hey! Hey! Let’s do it again!
Everybody yell, GO FIGHT WIN!
Go, Fight, Win! Do it again!
Go, Fight, Win! GO, FIGHT, WIN!

The loud sounds only fueled my anger. Where was the little Skipper doll, anyway? I scanned the gym and spotted Grace on the front left of the floor. She seemed fine to me. She was jumping and doing all the motions along with everyone else.
“Spencer!” Jasmine Jacobs ran up to me and gave me a hug that smelled like the middle of Macy’s.
I didn't answer. Just kept my eyes on Grace, willing her to look over here and notice me and feel guilty for being such a bad friend.
“Why haven’t you texted me lately?” Jasmine asked. She poked me in the ribs, which sent fire up my spine. 
I grabbed her wrist and pushed it aside. “Don't touch me.” I walked away from her, down to the end of the gym where Grace wouldn't be able to miss me.
“Grace, your boyfriend’s here!” Jasmine yelled.
I whipped around and glared at her. “Don’t do that.”
Jasmine just giggled and yelled in a singsong voice, “Gracie Lou Who, your boyfriend’s here for you!”
Across the gym I heard Grace mumble, “He’s not my boyfriend.”
Good thing, too, or I'd really have a reason to give her heck. I walked right out onto the court, weaving between cheerleaders. I grabbed Grace's arm and pulled her after me. Can I talk to you right now? Great.
She jerked away from my hold. “Why are you here? she asked. Are you stalking me?”
“You missed class this morning, tumbelina.” I couldn't tell if she was wearing more makeup than normal.
“So you're checking up on me again, is that it?”
“If you would go to class and return texts like a normal person, I wouldn't have to check up on you.” Was that a bruise on her face? I shifted to get a better look. The lighting in here was pretty bad.
“Spencer, look. I like you. But I’m not ready for a boyfriend right now. I’m just … there’s a lot going on …”
Oh, come on.” My face got all hot. “You think I'm just trying to hook up with you? That's not what this is about. Why didn't you come to class this morning?” I lowered my voice and glanced away. I was worried about you.”
She folded her arms. “Why are you always worried about me? I might not be able to bench my own body weight like you, but do I look like an invalid?”
I gritted my teeth. “No.” But maybe it was time to tell her. Spill my guts and hope I didn't look like more of a freak than she already thought I was. “Okay, this will probably sound insane. But ...



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HAPPY

There was no afternoon League today because of finals, so I ran over to Pilot Point High to check on Grace. I stepped into the old gym and was greeted by sneakers squeaking on wood and girl’s chanting voices. 

Hey! Hey! Let’s do it again!
Everybody yell, GO FIGHT WIN!
Go, Fight, Win! Do it again!
Go, Fight, Win! GO, FIGHT, WIN!

I scanned the gym and spotted Grace on the front left of the floor. She seemed okay. She was jumping and doing all the motions along with everyone else. I smiled, happy to see her. The girls' cheer gave me strength and fortified my resolve. I could do this. I would tell her right now. And she'd be so thankful, she'd give me a dazzling smile and 
“Spencer!” Jasmine Jacobs ran up to me and gave me a hug that smelled like the middle of Macy’s.
“What’s up, Jas?” I asked, distracted by her pretty hair. 
Jasmine poked me in the ribs, which kind of tickled. “Why haven’t you texted me lately?”
I had no idea what to say to that. “You want me to text you?” I would never understand girls, but I sure did like it when they were being nice to me.
“Yee-ah.” She slapped my chest and yelled, “Grace, your boyfriend’s here!”
I grabbed Jasmine's waist and tried to cover her mouth with my hand. “Shh! Don’t do that.” 
But the girl squirmed away, giggling, and yelled again. “Gracie Lou Who, your boyfriend’s here for you!”
Across the gym I heard Grace mumble, “He’s not my boyfriend.”
Story of my life, really. But I wasn’t giving up yet.
I went and sat on the floor by the wall, watching the practice. It was really hard work too, watching cheerleaders. Then her coach got them all together for a few minutes, and Grace finally came over.
“Hey, stalker,” she said.
“Hey, tumbelina." I flashed my most charming grin. “Missed you in class this morning.”
“Checking up on me again, huh?”
“Always.” I didn't see any bruises on her face. She was perfect as always.
“Spencer, look. I like you. But I’m not ready for a boyfriend right now. I’m just … there’s a lot going on …”
My face got all hot, but I brushed off her accusation as duty. “I don’t want to be your boyfriend, Grace. But you're on Alpha team, and I have to make sure you're alive and everything.
She folded her arms. “Why you?”
“Why not me?” But maybe it was finally time to tell her. I was feeling good today. Might as well give it a try, right? “Okay, well, this will probably sound weird. But ...



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Now it's your turn! Find a scene that you can play with and rewrite it from three different emotions. Look to change your character's thoughts, observations, dialogue, actions, and descriptive words. How does the scene change? What did you notice?

27 comments:

  1. This. Is. Great.

    I'm definitely going to try it later today. Thank you so much for this post!

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  2. Wow, I can really see how it all changes...that's something I don't think about too much. Have to work on this in the second draft. :)

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    1. Yeah, and as I'm reading them again today, I want to rewrite them more! LOL

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  3. This was great! I've never really thought about how much emotion plays into one itty bitty scene before! I'll definitely have to try this out later!

    -Abby

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    1. Thanks, Abby. Emotion really helps you get deep into your character's POV.

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  4. Great post! I'll definitely try this later during revisions!

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  5. Very cool. I totally have to try this. Now to find the perfect scene... Very helpful blog post Jill! I can't wait to read the new adventure! ;)

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    1. It took me forever to find a scene that would work. I turned book 2 into Jeff, so I didn't know what might change on it or get cut...

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  6. Nice! I like how certain small things changed with each emotion and how he reacted to those around him....Now I must venture through my writing and pick a scene...hrmmmm. ;)
    Can't wait to read this book too!!!

    <3,
    Eden

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    1. Thanks, Eden. And sometimes his change created a change in other's behavior and dialogue too.

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  7. Great examples, but now I want to know what Spencer was going to tell her!!

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  8. Thanks for these excellent examples.

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  9. The worried version of that scene totally makes me want to read the book. I hope that's the one you're going with. ;) Looking forward to playing with the emotions in my WIP.

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    1. Yep. The worried version is the real version, Leah. The in-the-book version. :-)

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    2. Yay! I've already read book 1 and 1.5 (you totally had me with the "support an adoption" thing), and I'm sure I'll be getting book 2 when it comes out. ;)

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  10. This was great! Thanks Jill!

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  11. That's so cool!! I seriously never thought about doing it until know! I love how you can totally notice a difference between each paragraph just because of emotions!!
    Thanks Jill!!

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    1. You're welcome! Glad it was helpful. :-)

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  12. I really like this. I've got to use this in my WIP now. I also like doing this with POV.
    I'd really never thought about this before. Thanks for the post!

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  13. That was awesome, Jill! Ah, now I can't wait to read the next Mission League book! :)

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