Portraying Emotion in your Writing

Throughout December I was touring around blogland promoting my newly released short story JUMP. In case you missed my stop at Julie Campbell’s blog, here is my post on the importance on portraying emotions in writing. Enjoy!!

I want to talk to you about portraying emotion in writing. Not an easy thing to do sometimes. I am a very emotional person, luckily for me this works well in my writing. I want the reader to FEEL the words, to cry at the sad parts, to at least smirk at the funny ones and have their hearts speed up during tense or action packed scenes.

Easy to say, but there is a fine line between making the reader feel and being over descriptive and causing their eyes to glaze over so they skip ahead to a less wordy paragraph.

It’s not always the quantity of the descriptive words used, but the quality. This can be as simple as using a descriptive tag instead of a simple one. Example: “You really piss me off,” she said. Try instead “You really piss me off,” she snarled. Even better, try removing the tag all together and add a brief description instead; “You really piss me off!” Trembling in anger, she struggled not to throttle the idiot.

Don’t forget to portray what your character is feeling. You may know, however does the reader? This can be done by simply writing what they feel– Happiness bubbled within her. Or you can portray their feelings through their actions or reactions; She clenched her jaw, Her eyes narrowed, She looked away, a faint smile coming to her lips.

It is also important to not only display your characters emotions, but also their feelings toward other characters, objects, actions etc. How does the character feel around another? How does this feeling cause them to react? Does it make them smile, frown, their eyes light up? How do they physically interact, do they touch or avoid contact? You do not need to write lengthy descriptions, a simple descriptive sentence or two can reveal a lot. A good exercise is to take note of how you or others interact physically during events or conversations.

Happy writing! I hope you are now NOT feeling confused. :)

About jlwylie

Stay at home mom of 2 boys, avid reader and writer. Published by Untold Press

2 thoughts on “Portraying Emotion in your Writing

  1. J E Fritz says:

    Nope. Not confused at all! Emotion and reactions are important in any novel, and it’s important to convey the feeling without burying the reader in description. Very good points.

  2. Greetings, my friend. I was “bouncing” past when I saw your tips and decided to stop for a moment and wish you a very Happy New Year to you and yours.


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