EXERCISE Transitioning Between Emotions

Discussion in 'REFINING WRITING' started by Diana, Apr 7, 2014.

  1. Sometimes you hear about an actor getting a lot of crap because they never seem to display more than one emotion, despite everything that's going on around them. This is something that players can fall victim to in their roleplays too. A character might be bouncy-happy excited all the time, even when something very terrifying or somber is going on. Or a character is always brooding and standing darkly in a corner, while everyone else is shocked and appalled at a situation.

    It's very important to be able to express emotion and changes of emotion when they are appropriate for a scene. Otherwise your character comes off flat and like they have NO emotions or personality.

    In this exercise, you are going to start off the scene with one emotion and then transition in to a second one.

    You pick the setting, location, situation and emotions. But you MUST start with one emotion, and then display a second one in response to a changing situation.

    • Physical cues are a great way of expressing emotions.
    • Thoughts can express emotions.
    • Dialogue from the character can express emotions.
    • Emotions can be triggered by an outside influence or by a character's own thoughts or actions.
    • Emotions are not always flipped like a light switch. Often they are built up to.

    Don't forget to add in anything you think of!
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  2. Jason couldn't help but smile as he sat atop the tree branch he had been climbing up to for the past several minutes. Life was so much simpler up here, it was as if his problems below simply melted away. He took in a deep breath of fresh air, leaning back against the trunk, his eyes closing as if he was about to fall asleep. "Nothing like a breath of fresh air," he said to himself. He opened his eyes again as he heard a slight rip. What could that be? he thought. He laughed as he realized he had torn a hole in the sleeve of his jacket. It was the first time he had been up in a tree in a dress jacket. He watched as the torn piece of black fabric swayed in the slight breeze. Mom would kill me for tearing a hole in a dress jacket like that he thought, chuckling to himself. The more he watched the tiny piece flap in the wind the more the smile faded away from his face. Mom would have yelled at me for ripping the jacket, and then she'd spend the next hour patching it up for me he thought, bowing his head to look at the ground below. "She would have," he repeated to himself, a single tear escaping from the duct beside his eye, the eye that had seen her body lowered into the ground not an hour before. "She would have!" he shouted, starting to weep like he hadn't done so in years. She would have.
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  3. Sasha was watching TV. Her little brother,Keith was being really annoying. He kept saying 'blah blah blah' in his little toddler voice. "Mom! Tell Keith to be quiet!" Sasha says to her busy mother. Her mother says "Oh come on he's just a baby. Ignore him." Sasha rolled her eyes even more annoyed than before,so she turned up the volume on the TV. Soon enough,she couldn't hear Keith. Sasha smiled. -Victory..- She thought as she chuckled and kicked back in the recliner relaxing a little.
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  4. At first, Rayna was shocked and frozen. There he was again, standing down by the river with his messy hair blonde and black cloak, eyes blue as ever. He looked like he always had before, as though his time alone after abandoning the group had not changed or impacted him at all. He seemed to be okay, better than okay even, and yet, she was angry about his safety and health. He was okay, after breaking her heart and leaving her a mess? Abandoning her when she needed him to guide her? And the rest of the group too. Shock soon faded away as her limp hands curled into fists, a few tears sprouting up as she began walking down the hill, knowing she needed to face him regardless of what would come from the encounter. She could feel her anger stewing, and he was sure to see what he did when she went lose on him, acting like the grenade they both had come to know her as.

    (( Any feedback is appreciated, I feel like I need work on this. <.< ))
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  5. Ace eyed the picture in her hands as she sat in an empty warehouse. Seven people, eight including herself, happy as they all crowded to take the picture together. She remembered the day like it was yesterday...

    "Toby you're blocking Jasper!"

    "Riley, Inadi can't hold you for that long!"

    "Ran, pay attention!"

    "Leila, smile please. Harper, scoot closer!"

    "Come on guys, give a big smile, it's Ace's birthday after all!"

    The teenager never had a birthday before... And the idea that they took the time to do something so special put a silly grin on her face and made her laugh softly. "You guys are fun." Her legs scooted closer to her chest, and her arms rested on them. The baseball cap silhouetted her eyes as she held the picture a little tighter. Friends. It was something she hadn't been able to say she had in a long time and now that she did...they were gone.

    Somewhere around the world, but nowhere near her. Moments passed. A few tears rolled down her cheeks and she looked up at the stars through a hole in a ceiling. "Thanks guys... I'm glad you made it home."
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  6. @ElBell

    Professor Ferret here,

    It's more a classic case of telling the reader rather than showing the reader. You tell the reader her emotional state at each point, even when it changes, and tell the reader her nature. There's also a lot of inner monologue that ends up choking the pace: When writing emotion, keep in mind that different emotions demand a different balance of descriptiveness, when written in the direct perspective of a character. For example: A methodical thinker like Sherlock Holmes spends a great deal of time with inner monologue because he is a logic-centric character and an egotist, who is analyzing a sequence of events and dissecting them to base components to resolve a mystery. Whereas a brash, excitable, young squire would spend less time on inner monologue, he might give himself a line or two of trying to encourage himself before going headlong into an actions-filled scrap. Having the young squire monologue a scene to death feels weird when reading in the perspective of the squire.

    "Acting like the grenade they both had come to know her as" is an example of telling the reader what they should think. Allow the character's actions to speak for herself and add additional context. For example: Why did he leave, and does the character (Rayna) know?

    At first, Rayna was shocked and frozen in place atop the hill. There he was again, standing down by the river with his messy, blonde hair, and black cloak, his eyes were as blue as ever. Looking like he always had before, as though his time alone after leaving her behind for reasons he didn't share meant nothing, despite knowing she worried for his health and safety. Slowly, her fingers curl into the palms of her hands, forming fists as tears well up in her eyes. Storming down the hill, she knew she had to face him no matter what the result of the encounter would be, even if it might turn out to be for irrational reasons.

    The blue lines indicate context: She starts atop the hill and then is described as going down the hill. The reader is informed that he gave no reason for his disappearance. Rather than walking at a brisk pace, she storms with a cocktail mixture of fury and sorrow. It's also shorter, removing a lot of the monologue in place of expanded descriptions of the actions, adding further little details you had already placed. The last line is conveying that she, at some level, realizes that he may have good reasons, despite how she feels, and is a monologue line that goes into the character's mind: She doesn't know and is reacting because of that, despite knowing that she could be acting inappropriately.

    Overall: You're doing really well, honestly. The paragraph conveyed her emotional states, and why she felt that way, it was just a simple case of refining the skills you already have. You have the theory, you just need the practice. :bsmile:

    Sincerely, Professor Ferret.

    PS: I think this also counts as my transitioning between emotions, but just in case, here's a deconstructed example.


    Moira takes a deep breath, her hands shaking in the bitterly cold wind as she held Tyler's hand. For some reason, he had insisted on trying to climb over the mountain rather than around, just to escape their pursuers who couldn't keep up with them anyway. Yet, the way his turquoise eyes managed to pierce through the veil of the swirling snow2 around them reassured her on some level. Passing around a corner on the mountain path at the edge of a cliff, he suddenly ceases and perks up. Unsheathing his blades, Tyler motions for Moira to stay hidden by the wall of the path around the mountain, and nodding nervously, she complies. The howling wind prevented her from hearing anything further as she curled up and brought her knees to her chest, wrapping her arms around her ankles2. Closing her eyes, she takes a few deep breaths, trying to settle herself. He'll be back soon, she thought to herself as she notices something small slide down to her feet.

    It was a blade.

    It was his blade.

    Grabbing it, Moira realizes that he must be in trouble, and with a moment's hesitation and a quick prayer to God she charges up the path with quickened breath, her pulse suddenly racing as adrenaline flooded her veins3. She only makes it up a few steps before something hits her and knocks her off her feet with the surprising amount of force it had. Landing on her back, she looks down to see the wooden shaft of an arrow sticking out of her chest. Bitterly and deliriously, she smiles4, realizing Tyler's fate was now her own, feinting from the mixture of pain and cold as a figure emerged2 from the frostbitten hell that was this damnable mountain.

    Character Introductions: Protagonist and Compatriot.
    Context: Where are they? (Mountain.) Why are they there? (To escape trouble.)
    Context2: Local weather conditions which will later on affect her ability to see Tyler's status.
    Emotion: Reassured by Tyler, initial set.
    Emotion2: Now that Tyler is gone, the reassurance he provided in tandem with potential danger ahead is making her nervous and potentially scared. (Transition.)
    Call to Action: A classic device in fiction, this time in literal manifested form.
    Emotion3: While still tense, she takes the Call to Action and spurs herself into a courageous charge to save the person she cares for from harm she knows nothing about yet. (Also implies blind loyalty and potential inexperience.) Bonus: This line also implies a spiritual connection to a deity, especially with the emphasis on capitalizing God.
    Emotion4: The previous bravado and concern she had for Tyler is transformed into a finalé of spite at the fate of herself and Tyler.
    Perspective: She isn't certain that Tyler is injured or dead, nor is she certain that the shot was even aimed at her as she couldn't see her adversary, which implies her adversary couldn't see her to aim at her either. This is an example of the character making a presumption and passing that information along to the audience in a monologue, which is good when done after an action to help the audience understand the connotations of her emotional state.
    Perspective2: She is unaware of who the figure is. It could be Tyler, it could be an adversary. Ambiguity!

    Though the Word of God here is in my mind, it's a hunting accident from paranoid poachers, she later recovers in their cabin with Tyler tending to her wound. Bet you didn't assume that, did ya? :horse:
    #6 Brovo, Nov 14, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2014
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  7. "Arya."


    After a long pause, Shale leaned down to collect the broken girl into her arms, her breath quickening, her heart beginning to hammer away like a hummingbird's wings. Resting Arya's head gently in the crook of her arm, and brushing away the straggly strands of ivory hair, she pressed two fingers against the pallid skin of the girl's neck, and then for a few seconds, she waited, waiting for anything, for the slightest throb or pulse against her hand, for the twitch of muscle that comes with intake of breath.

    She waited for a few seconds, and then a few more- thirty seconds, a minute-

    "No. No, no, no no no..." she breathed, her breath catching in her throat. Her fingers clutched onto Arya's limp shoulder, nails digging into skin as she shook the girl in her arms. "No. Arya! Arya, wake up! Do you hear me? Wake up!!"

    Shale shook her for a few seconds more, blinking back the tears that were welling in her eyes. On impulse, she lifted her hand, striking the girl across the face. "Wake up! Arya, you can't do this to me- WAKE UP!" she cried, cupping her hand around Arya's cheek. The familiar pink flush had drained from her skin, and her eyelids drooped over sightless eyes. Shale couldn't stop the tears from coming- they ran freely, rolling down her face and dripping off her chin.

    Then came the sobs. Uncontrollable sobs, ripping through her like knives, each one more painful than the last. She clutched Arya tightly in her arms, ignoring the sticky crimson that was seeping through Arya's sweater and onto her own, screwing her eyes shut against the tears that kept on coming. She cried into her lost friend's shoulder, whispering her name over and over, as though she'd suddenly open her eyes and respond, and tell her that all would be alright. She was afraid to open her own eyes. It would mean accepting that what happened had happened. That Arya was gone. That she wasn't coming back.

    Gone. Forever.

    "Why would they do this to her?" How could they? Arya had done nothing to them. They couldn't have possibly wanted any more from her, she did all they ever asked for. But they still killed her. They killed her. Her ultimate crime was her very existence, and they had taken their price- her life.

    "I wasn't there to protect her..." Shale spoke to herself, voice wavering. She leaned up to look down at Arya- she looked almost peaceful in death, despite her body having been brutalized and beaten. "I wasn't there to protect you... And so they killed you..."

    She found herself shaking her head as she gingerly set Arya onto the ground, and roughly wiped away the wetness in her eyes. "No." she said, climbing to her feet. "No. I won't let them get away with this, Arya. I'll make them pay."

    Surely, there was no payment big enough for what they had done to Arya. But surely, she had to try. Her fingers clenched together into fists by her side, sticky and coated in red. She let herself take one last look at Arya, beautiful, delicate Arya, before ripping her gaze away. Heart still pounding, her blood boiling under her skin, she made herself a promise. No more of these stupid games, she thought. This time, if I so much as hear their names...

    I will hunt them down.

    I will pin them down.

    Although her tears still wanted to flow, her head felt like it was going to burst, her heart itching for revenge. She'd make them all run at the very mention of her, at the sound of her footsteps and breath. They had to feel, she decided, the same way Arya had felt in her final moments. The same terror and pain, moment for moment. It was only just, she thought.

    They will pay dearly for their err.

    ( That got dark really fast. Random drabble. Accepting all feedback because I direly need it xD)
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