Skip to main content

Guest Post—Put Some Heart in Your Emotion

Happy NaNoWriMo Everyone!

To celebrate the first day of National Novel Writing Month I'm pleased to host fellow author Dianna Winget (who I just happened to find during the Writers Helping Writers Amazing Race) who will share her insight on injecting emotion into your writing.  Meanwhile, I am welcoming a group of authors from all over the globe to a writing retreat in Phuket. Seriously, they've come from Canada, the US, Dubai, Malaysia and Thailand! Over the next 6 days we'll be writing, critiquing, learning and inspiring each other. I will be joined by author and publisher Jo Parfitt who will conduct workshops on adding SPICE to your writing and Breaking the Block. I'll update you all next week and share our stories. For now, Dianna, take it away! 

Author Dianna Winget
            Our lives are pretty much ruled by emotions—and that includes all you manly guys out there, even though you refuse to discuss it. Just think how many feelings we experience on any given day. The gamut can run from delight to disgust, contentment to irritation, fear to frustration. So if these feelings are so common to all of us, why can they be such a challenge to accurately portray? Probably because it’s one thing to experience an emotion, quite another to make our readers feel it. Too often we fall back on the rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms type of description that’s been used a million times and has lost its impact. 

Here are a few tips that can help liven up your writing.

  1. Don’t expect your reader to feel what your character is feeling just because you want them to. Only when emotion is provoked through the circumstances of the story will your reader feel what you want.
  2. Consider your character’s age, gender, background and place in history. Ask yourself how this particular character might feel about or react to a situation.
  3. What is the strongest emotion you want your reader to feel? Search out and delete that word everywhere it occurs in your manuscript. How can you portray that emotion through action alone?
  4. Choose an emotion. Jot down the first five physical reactions that spring to mind. These will likely be clichés you want to avoid. Expand upon these until your description feels fresh and original.
  5. Get yourself a copy of Angela Ackerman’s Emotion Thesaurus. This is a fun and immensely helpful tool for accurately portraying character emotion.

            Always remember that readers have high expectations. They don’t want to be told how a character feels, they want to experience the emotion for themselves. So roll up your writer sleeves and make yourself sweat a little. Your effort will result in a much stronger manuscript and a loyal base of readers.

Author Bio

Dianna begin writing at nine years old, when she would stuff notebooks under her bed to prevent prying eyes from seeing her wonderful masterpieces. It wasn't until graduating from high school that she finally admitted her love for writing. After graduating from the Institute of Children’s Literature, Dianna began selling short stories and articles to magazines such as Clubhouse, U*S* Kids, Child Life, and Good Reading for Everyone. 

It wasn't until 2012, that she realized her dream of writing middle grade novels with the publication of A Smidgen of Sky.(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Watch for her next middle grade, True As Steel. (Scholastic Press, Fall of 2014) Dianna is repped by Lara Perkins at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. To learn more, visit her website at Or connect with her on Twitter @DiannaMWinget.


Angela Ackerman said…
I am thrilled to see you two made a match during the WHW Amazing race! There is loads of good advice of the biggest neon signs of telling is naming an emotion, and thinking about who the character is, what their life experience might be and how that affects them really will play into emotional expression and range. And wow, thanks for the shout out too--very kind of you!

Great stuff! Will share this :) It's nice to meet authors of Middle Grade, because that's where my writing heart is too! :)

Dianna Winget said…
Thanks so much for hosting me, Anne! And Angela, I don't know what I'd do without my Emotion Thesaurus :)
Dianna, Great to have you!

Popular posts from this blog

Adverbs & Cliches in a Nutshell - Guest Post by Jessica Bell

Too many adverbs and clichés in your writing? I've got just the fix for you. by Jessica Bell Writers constantly have rules thrown at them left, right, and center. Show, don’t tell! Stop using so many dialogue tags! More sensory detail! More tension! Speed up the pace! Yada yada yada ... it can become overwhelming, yes? I used to feel overwhelmed by it all too. In fact, I still do sometimes. It’s hard enough to get the words on the page, let alone consider how to put them there. In Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird , she says that in order not to be overwhelmed, a writer needs to focus on short assignments. She refers to the one-inch picture frame on her desk and how that little picture frame reminds her to focus on bite-sized pieces of the whole story. Basically, if you focus on one small thing at a time, the story will eventually come together to create a whole. I believe the same applies to learning the craft of writing. If writers focus on one aspect of the craft at a time, t

Virtual Book Tour for The Healing Begins April 23

As we approach launch day for Lynda Faye Schmidt's novel, The Healing , a women's fiction/family drama based on the author's life, we're excited to announce the blog tour schedule and introduce you to the bloggers and book reviewers who have joined the tour. The tour begins on launch day, April 23rd. Take a look, follow these bloggers and make sure you visit on the tour dates indicated (check back regularly for updates): Pre-Tour - March 2 - Thrive Global - pre-launch announcement  April 16 - Fit for Joy - pre-launch podcast interview with Lynda April 23 - IndieView - author Q&A with Lynda April 24 -  Canadian Bookworm  - featuring a guest blog by Lynda, "What Inspired Me" April 26 - Dartmouth Book Exchange - author spotlight April 29 - Storybook Reviews - review May 4 -  Help Me Sara  - podcast interview May 13 -  My Question Life  - review and author interview June 30 - Reader's Favorite - review  As new bloggers come on board we will update our

The Author-Preneur – Are you Ready for it? Book review: APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch

“Starting your book is only the first five miles of a twenty-six mile marathon that’s one-third of a triathlon.” APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur If you’re a self-published author or are contemplating taking the plunge (for whatever reason), be prepared for the demand of being an ‘Author-Preneur.’ Actually, it’s not a bad idea to do it even if you’re traditionally published. Start switching your mind-set from, ‘I’ve got to sit down and get a chapter done today’ to ‘I’ve got to sit down and write a chapter today AND post a tweet about my progress, share a sneak preview on Facebook, take that tutorial on how to convert to ebooks, and review the cover design proposals that are sitting in my in-box.’ There are plenty of books, blogs, websites, newsletters and videos out there on how to do it all... some helpful and others not so much. One that I would highly recommend is Guy Kawasaki’s and Shawn Welch’s APE: Author, Publisher,Entrepreneur . It takes you through the entire