E for Emotions And Emotional Tags # A to Z Challenge

angry cartoon figure
image courtesy of jesadaphorn at freedigitalphotos.net


Emotion is the vital ingredient when creating a credible character. We rely on emotional clues to decipher people and the world around us.

The cartoon image is simple and direct. The anger is shown in the shape of eyebrows and eyes, the down-turned crescent of the mouth, and the fisted hands. The whole body holds itself rigid with emotion.

Understanding emotions is vital in life as well as cozy mysteries.  🙂  When I went to search for a suitable illustration, the website brought up 339 pages, 8135 images. That’s how important it is.

Emotion is the clue we seek when we try to decipher what people around us are doing. Are they saying what they really think? Are they saying one thing and thinking another? What do they really,  really feel.

Emotion in Writing

Sadly, when we are writing it is far more difficult to show the emotions our characters feel. In cozies, they can be more restrained as the cast hides secrets from the sleuth and everyone else in their little world.

“The detective was angry”–yes, it tells us what he feels but it does not allow readers to know and react to him as if they were there. But if the detective clasps his pipe so tightly, he breaks the stem , and if the readers know the sentimental value of his pipe, then they, too, are nearer to sharing the gut reaction.

Keep it Simple

Often tags are nearer to the cartoon image.

Manuscripts are filled with grimacing faces, nodding heads, eyes rolling around in all directions.

Emotional tags brought in to break up dialogue must be as subtle as the real signs we look out for in each other.

Let the reader infer what is really happening.

Never insult his intelligence by hitting him over the head with a stated emotion.

Action Tip:

Have a go. Try adding an emotional tag or two to the comments section. The link is at the top of the post.

7 thoughts on “E for Emotions And Emotional Tags # A to Z Challenge”

  1. Emotions and actions were two things I struggled with back when I thought I wanted to write a novel. So I wrote the rough draft, and my sister said it is boring. Why are they always at the beach, she asked. I definitely respect people who put themselves out there and pen novels, but the rough draft novel experience taught me I am no longer interested in writing a novel after all. It made me realize I enjoy my blog writing and artwork more.

    1. Interesting take on the process. I like the immediacy of the blog writing and found my first novella very difficult to write–and with hindsight fatally flawed. But it’s now a challenge–to learn to write a good cozy mystery. I wish I could take as beautiful photos as yours but I never shall. Sighs

      1. People are talented at composing stories with tension, and weaving a good tale. I honestly just realized I cannot put my characters in enough predicaments to make them interesting. I sort of like the idea of my rough draft novel, but I am not really sure who would want to read it. My sister said they were at the beach too much, and there was not enough action. I am sure I could revisit it, but I have just had no motivation since finishing it. This foray into writing made me realize I am probably better suited as a fiction reader.

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