Novel Writing Course – Build Your Novel Scene by Scene.
Writing With Heart and Soul:
Internal scenes reveal the interior life of a character—what motivates them, what emotions they experience and what makes them tick. Internal scenes are crucial to any novel because they help the reader feel they understand a character, and, as a result, their actions. If you can get a reader to feel what your character feels, you’ve done your job as an author.
I want us to think for a few minutes about how best to convey a character’s emotions, within the context of a novel. Oscar Wilde once noted, “A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is fatal.” This is a good notion to keep in mind as we think about writing scenes that deal with our character’s emotions. If you don’t provide enough emotion, your reader may not feel the novel has much heart. If you provide too much, the reader might feel the novel is melodramatic. There’s a big difference between sentiment and sentimental. Aim for the former, not the latter.
So how exactly do you get your reader to feel the emotions that your character experiences? You know by now that you can’t simply tell a reader what to feel. Instead, you need to use your writerly guiles to make them feel these emotions for themselves. You can accomplish this feat through the senses, or more specifically, sensory writing.
While your reader may not know exactly what it feels like to lose their favorite pet pig in a horrific farm accident, they do understand the way it feels, physically, to experience sadness. They’ve probably felt that knot forming in their throats, or the way that vision becomes oddly hazy and magnified when tears begin to form.
As a general rule, you should avoid talking about your character’s emotions by simply stating them. A line such as “he was angry” simply won’t resonate as much as one that describes the physical state of anger. His fists were balled; blood warmed his face till it tingled; he felt like his skin would burst.
Describe how the emotion physically manifests itself, and you’ll convey the emotion.