Emotions in a Can
you have a favorite CD? Is it playing right now?
authors respond to music. Some of us like to write with our eyes half-closed
while the music washes over us. Others prefer silence to contemplate.
Whether you like music on or off during writing, you can use it to enrich
your story ideas and characters.
likely chose your music because it makes you feel. It creates an emotional
response in you, whether it's happy, sad, angry, or excited.
does this have to do with your story? A good story resonates with the
reader. It makes him feel with and for the characters. In order to write a
story you must know your characters intimately. How can you create an
emotional response in your readers if you haven't first felt it yourself?
The following is my method for learning not only the emotional motivations
of my characters, but what it feels like to be in the grip of those
comfortable with your favorite CD. It works best for me when I'm driving
down a familiar stretch of highway, my brain switched to autopilot with my
favorite song on repeat. You could also stretch out on the couch with
headphones, but you're more likely to be interrupted.
Listen to your favorite song. Let it move you. Feel it as fully as you can.
Now play it again, only this time imagine that the words are the thoughts of
one of your characters. Which one would be most likely to feel this way? If
only parts of the song fit a character, how might you interpret the rest to
fit him? Are there things he may have done or felt that you don't know
about? Maybe some parts of the song fit one character and some fit another.
Are these characters on the same side, or opposed? If they are opposed, do
they have something in common that causes the same song to resonate with
both of them? Even if the words don't fit at all, the basic emotion of the
song might set the mood to look at a character in a different way.
characters, good or evil, possess the full range of human emotions. In
addition to the songs that fit your character, run him through a few that
clash with his temperament. Maybe you can't see how a love song applies to
your villain, but try it. Feel it with her. Given her current personality
and situation can she feel this way about anyone? Has she ever? Does she
want to? Maybe it doesn't fit at all; why not? How does she view others who
feel this way? Asking these questions usually generates a lot of new ideas
about character backstory, creating depth and possibly the answers to some
also aids in creating believable reactions and physical responses, freeing
and magnifying emotions that we normally suppress. Have you heard a song
that makes you cry? Play it. Close your eyes. Squeeze your character's tears
out onto your cheeks. Notice how they burn, your breath thickens, your chest
music is your tool, strong emotion is always close, waiting for you to call
it into use. Today your angry song is her indignation, tomorrow his