Posted by: nancycurteman | November 12, 2015

10 Ways Authors Can Convey Character Emotions in Mystery Novels

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People read mystery fiction because they want to go on an emotional journey with the characters. Emotions are abstract and can be difficult to depict in a story. Readers can understand emotions better if they read how the character expresses them. Readers get emotional when they can step into a character’s shoes and experience his feelings. Here are 10 ways authors can enable their readers to experience at a visceral level the emotions of  mystery story people:

  1. At the lowest level, authors can write the word for the emotion such as happy, sad, fearful, joyous, but don’t overuse these words and don’t expect them to adequately describe the emotions you wish to convey.
  2. To produce a vivid experience in your readers, describe exactly how your character feels. Be as specific as possible. He gritted his teeth and expelled hard breaths through his nose. His heart raced as his fists clenched.
  3. Avoid clichés. She fainted in agony.
  4. Incorporate what your character sees, tastes, smells, hears while experiencing the emotion.
  5. Describe your characters physical sensations: increased heart beat, muscles tightening. churning stomach.
  6. Show a characters emotions through his body language: posture, facial expression, voice.
  7. Find emotion in a physical object: Have a woman focus on her dead husband’s favorite chair.
  8. Describe the emotion but don’t follow it with an explanation. She furrowed her brow and bit her lip, worrying. The explainer, worrying, is not necessary.
  9. Flashback to a moment in time. The boy pictured how his dead dog used to love chasing anything the boy tossed.
  10. Have the character flash forward: Now the dog would never chase again.

The bottom line is this: Convey a character’s emotions by showing the characters experience them, not telling about them.

More tips:

Why Novels Need Love and Sex Scenes
How to Avoid Melodrama in Sad Mystery Novel Scenes
6 Ways to Make Your Characters Tap into the Emotions of Your Readers

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