“Use an Emotion Orchestra in Your Story” by Joan Y. Edwards
Last week I read an article by Wade Bradford entitled, Warm Up Activity: Emotion Orchestra on About.com: http://plays.about.com/od/actvities/qt/orchestra.htm.
In it Bradford tells about the activity: One person pretends he is the conductor. People stand or sit in a semi-circle like people do in an orchestra. Rather than a string or percussion section, they will have sections named for different emotions.
I visualize each section with a poster card that names the emotion. Each group decides on a word or phrase that symbolizes the emotion:
Guilt – I’m sorry.
Confused – Huh?
Disgust – Yuch!
Angry – GRRR!
Joy – Yippee!
Sadness – Teardrops
Love – Hug
When the orchestra leader points to a section, they make the proper sound for their group’s main emotion. The sounds get louder and louder until it’s a crescendo of strength and meaning. Other times it gets soft and low.
Now I’d like for you to put yourself in front of the open pages of your manuscript. You as a writer design the the emotions people feel on the pages in your book. Choose a random chapter for this exercise. Read the chapter. List the first seven emotions shown. Now go to the last chapter and see if there has been a change. Write the emotion(s) the main character feels on the page. Sometimes a character feels more than one emotion on a page. Does it change in the last two chapters of the story? Depending upon the genre, theme, and character’s situation, the emotion will change when the character’s situation and experience change. A character with no changes has no problems, no conflicts, and so, no story.
I enjoyed thinking of my manuscript as an orchestra of emotion. I hope you enjoy it, too.
Do you have to do this exercise? Of course not. However, when you focus on highlighting the changing emotions of your main character, it pulls readers into your story.
I found seven emotions described in the first chapter of my Immigrant Heart manuscript: excitement, joy, surprise, sadness, fear, anger, and disgust.
I’d like to hear what helps you describe emotions. Leave a comment before midnight Thursday, January 16, 2014 and I’ll put your name in a hat for a free First Page and Pitch critique. I’ll announce the winner on Friday morning, January 17, 2014.
Other posts I wrote about emotions. I hope you’ll read one.
- Put Universal Conflict, Theme, and Emotions in Your Story
- Pull Readers in – Show Believable Emotions in Your Writing
- Do You and Your Characters Follow the Crowd’s Emotions?
- Make Your Character’s Actions Show Emotions
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards