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Jul 7, 2022

In Summary: Emotion


This summer, we’re introducing a new series called In Summary, where we collect up some of our favorite posts on different craft topics. We hope you’ll click on a post or two now, and that you’ll be able to come back later when you’re struggling with a craft topic so you can find a wide range of posts by our contributors (past and present) to help you along the way.

As writers, we try to evoke emotions in our readers, and we try to communicate how our characters are feeling. Sometimes in our quest to communicate emotion, we are tempted to rely on cliches–eye rolls, shrugs, blank stares, sweaty palms, butterflies in the stomach or clenching stomach. These are real things that real people do, but we’ve seen them so often in writing they don’t mean as much. So how do you communicate emotion? These posts offer some strategies for how to capture your characters’ emotions, communicate them to your readers, and make your reader feel something too.


In this post on character, Kristi Wright explores how sensory details can reveal a character’s emotional state.


In our first KidLit Craft Goes to the Movies post, I explore how an endowed object–one given meaning within the story–can both express character emotion and evoke emotional responses in the viewer/reader.


In another post that deals with tracking emotions over the course of the story, Kristi looks to Tanita S. Davis’s Partly Cloudy for how to use an extended metaphor to reveal a character’s changing emotional state.


These two posts consider how contrasts can amplify emotion: Erin Nuttall looks at using the unexpected, humor, and the absurd to explore difficult emotions, and I look at how a resolution with an emotional antagonist can create a satisfying ending for readers.


Finally, these two posts explore how poetic techniques of repetition and refrain can reveal and evoke emotion.


We hope you’ve discovered some useful tools for your writer’s toolbox in these posts!

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