A-Z blog challenge: E is for Emotion

Writing prose with emotion is hard for me. I start off with scenes that are flat and emotionless. My characters are acting and talking as if what is happening isn’t touching them emotionally. It’s as if they don’t care and are just shrugging it off. Are they fighting for their lives against a winged demon? Oh yeah, it’s just everyday stuff, whatever, blah, blah, I’m so bored.

This should be a moment of terror. The character believes they might die. But it’s terror tempered with determination to live, the will to push themselves mentally and physically beyond what they’ve ever done before. Maybe there’s a little elation in the mix. In an action scene like this the character’s adrenalin will be high and that complex cocktail of feeling has to come off the page and raise the reader’s heartbeat.

What I want is overblown drama on an operatic scale. I want to leave my reader exhausted and wrung out. But it’s hard to push myself to get there. I’ve learnt to moderate my emotions and I’m afraid that, instead of being moved, the reader will think I’m ridiculous. I don’t want to make a fool of myself so I draw back and I contain the emotion. I let it out in tiny little drips that people barely notice. And, for real life, that’s ok.

It’s like a tap. For real life, I want a gentle trickle. For my writing, sometimes I want a torrent. But the tap is stiff with disuse and I struggle to fully turn it on. When I do manage it, I feel embarrassed. I’m working on that by practicing writing pieces that are as emotionally laden as I can make them. These are just practice pieces that will never see the light of day and so I don’t have to worry whether a reader will find them ridiculous. I can learn to control the emotion tap in private and when it comes to writing scenes in my work-in-progress then I will have the skill to get the emotional balance right.

How do you feel about writing with emotion? Is it easy or difficult? Are there some emotions you find harder than others?