Embodying Your Character’s Emotions

 Embodying your character emotions| moranchaim.com

It is often that you sit to write an emotional scene or a description but you just can’t nail it right. The tone and style don’t come out as you wish they were and they fail to raise the specific emotion you designed them for.

This happens mainly because you are not in the specific emotional state you’re writing about.

Try to remember a breakup you had, maybe you sat down and wrote a very angry letter about how your partner shouldn’t have left you or a poem about deep sadness. If you read it today you might think “what the hell was I thinking? Breaking up was the best thing ever happened to me!” but all the same you could still sense the basic emotional state that you’ve been in at the time because your mind remembers.

This isn’t some magic trick, when you’re in a positive or negative state your body temperature changes, different hormones rush through your veins, your posture changes, and your cognitive capacity alter to support this mental process.

Being able to write a compelling love scene or a memorable breakup speech can be practiced. But I’ve found that what really helps to leave an emotional imprint on the reader, is to write while being in the specific emotional state that you’re writing about.

The usual advice for writers is to try and remember how you reacted and how you felt during a similar situation and derive the emotion from that vision. Some other advice is about reading out loud the dialog for yourself so you could feel how it is really spoken. I say take it another step further and become an actor. It is not enough to read the words and remember a case from the past. You have to embody your character’s emotions.

Try this for an instance; let’s say you need to write an action scene or a fight scene. Try picking up a softball and throw it against the wall as hard as you can. Picture yourself trying to destroy something. Do it over and over again. Don’t stop even if you start to sweat. Don’t try to hit any specific object just try to throw it as hard and as angry as you can. Do it with your dominant arm and then switch to the other one. Let the energy flow in your body.

Then, after 3-4 minutes (the more the better) you’ll feel ignited, you’ll feel pumped and energized. You might even feel anger. It might not feel like sitting and writing anymore. That’s the stage you wish to be in when you’re writing that scene.

Want to write romantic? Read an old love letter you once got or wrote.

Want to write happy? Dance in your room to a happy tune.

Want to write funny? Watch a stand-up comedy video on Youtube.

Want to write a scary bit? Walk through a sketchy neighborhood in your city.

The rule is – always think as an actor and try to find the most similar physical action you can do in order to ignite a certain emotion.

About the Author

Moran Chaim

2 Comments

CJ Moseley

I think for some authors this is really good advice, but rather like the way that within the world of acting there are actors who use Method and those who do not, this advice will not be for everyone. Personally, I see and hear my characters without having to act them out, the movie is already playing in my head and I just transcribe it…

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