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