One of the most basic elements of life is emotion. So obviously it is going to be found in fiction in a number of ways. The term generally comes with a negative connotation of teenage melodrama. However, the emotion in a story is what we look for and enjoy the most.
There are a few basic emotions that have powerful effects on readers. David Farland does an incredible job at outlining the emotions that readers look for. In his post How to Start off a Story, he talks about how important it is to put an emotional impact in the very beginning of a book. However, my favorite part about it is that he points out that the genres are based on the overarching emotion of the story. Romance, horror, and wonder, which you find in fantasy and science fiction, are a few of the most prevalent.
Every story has a mix of emotions, but the primary or most frequent, overarching emotion is the one that defines the genre. Romances will have sadness, fear, or anger to contrast the resulting romance in the end. Fantasy has mundane boredom that urges a hero to seek an adventure and find wonder. A natural variety of emotions should be found in any story, but especially those that contrast with the overarching thematic emotion, or genre.
The plot is the natural sequence of events, and tied with those events are particular emotions. As mentioned above, the variety of emotions in a story include a contrast that strengthens the overarching feeling at the end of the story. In order for any strong emotion to be felt, a set up must be put into place. Hence the contrast. But nothing in any story is important, unless the reader feels some sort of connection with the characters.
Characters will obviously have emotions. Personality differences is what really saves us. With the different strengths and weaknesses, emotions are triggered and controlled differently. The most difficult thing to remember is the natural sequence of emotion and escalation. A character’s anger, and any emotion, should build, not explode out of nowhere.
Emotions in Writing
No one can argue that writing comes with a series of emotions. Young or old, novice or experienced, all writers have mixed emotions about writing. Beginning the task is usually daunting and the completion is usually joyous, with other varieties mixed in the middle. But what is more important is the emotion that goes into the writing itself.
The quality of a work will always be better when the creator had an interest and passion in doing it. However, actually carrying the emotion is a different level of quality. An emotional work has a small piece of the soul and peronality of the creator and carryies a message along with the emotion. The message may be the emotion itself, or it may be the value of the emotion.
Imagine your favorite story or creative work. Does it speak to you? what emotion or message does it have for you? This is the emotion a creator puts in the work.
Emotions in Stories
Next time you read, watch a movie, create a story, or even observe people, notice what emotions are expressed. Stories are everywhere, and all of them are packed with emotion. Take note of how the emotions in stories effect your own emotions.