Tips and Tricks to Writing Emotions

Are Emotions Absent in your Scenes? If they aren’t, don’t look now, but you just lost your readers.

by Deborah Owen

There are tips and tricks to writing emotions. As a creative writer, you must feel the mood you’re writing. This is imperative if you want to reach your audience. How can you do that? By experiencing the mood.

Let’s suppose you want to write a scene that displays anger. Maybe the story is about abuse, a mom and dad arguing, or sibling rivalry. Maybe it’s about a girl breaking up with her boyfriend because he was cheating on her. If the scene is intense, you have to get into the mood. I mean red, piping hot angry.

Remember the guy or gal that dumped you 30 years ago? Remember the time you had a bad dream about your pal and you wouldn’t speak to him/her all day? How about when you got steamed at the boss, or got into a heated argument over politics, world affairs, abortion, women’s rights, etc.? As a writer, you must recapture those emotions and write them into your scenes. It should be so real that you attend anger management classes to get over it.

Do you need to be happy? Then think of some happy occasions. Sing a crazy song as loud as you can. Laugh like an idiot! When you begin laughing at yourself, it’s time to write that joy into your scene.

Another way to develop absent emotions is to imagine yourself as the character and write entries in a diary from his/her point of view. Live the make-believe life. Do whatever it takes to crawl into your character’s skin. You can’t write effectively what you don’t know or aren’t in the mood for. (You can, however, write a draft for the scene and come back to build it in a more realistic way later.)

Remember that your protagonist (main character, hero) and antagonist (villain) must be three-dimensional characters. They must have a past and a future; they must have problems in their lives and they must work through those issues like real, live people. Your characters should be real enough to walk off the page and sit next to the reader. If your reader can’t identify with the characters, he or she will probably not continue reading.

When my daughter was 16 years old, it was not uncommon for her to sit cross-legged on the floor and bawl her eyes out over a dramatic TV show. One night I winked at my husband and said, “That actress is playing her part really well, isn’t she?” He picked up on it and we talked back and forth about the actress’ career and wondered out loud what movie she would be in next – although she just died in that scene.

Our daughter turned around, tears dripping off her cheeks, and said, “Quit it, you guys. You’re ruining the show!” But what she really meant was, “I’m into the character. I feel what she is feeling. Don’t move me out of the scene.”

If your characters aren’t three-dimensional, (physically, emotionally, and spiritually) you’ll lose your readers. Put yourself into the mood and into the groove. Live what you write.

How do you best write emotions? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to head over to to find out about our creative writing courses!

You can find me online at http://www.deborahowen.wordpress or deborahowen on Twitter. Don’t forget to “like” us before you leave! Click on the title to leave a comment. Thank you!

10 thoughts on “Tips and Tricks to Writing Emotions

    1. We teased her unmercifully. Poor baby. lol She still remembers that… but the stories were written so well that she was totally engaged. That’s how our stories must be. Deb


  1. Yes, the writing mind is fantastic, isn’t it? You can make yourself so scared you won’t be able to sleep at night. My husband hates it when I write anger scenes. Wonder why. lol


      1. Hi Deb,
        Now I know why I enjoy a good love story, I always loved family,
        Warm, tear jerking stories, I always enjoy a warm friendship
        So, I guess I would fail before I even started trying to write these stories,
        I am so thankful you explained that subject here now,
        This why I enjoy reading scriptures daily,
        Although it has anger also, to make a point
        I guess I am just so different than most people,
        I often wonder about that,
        Thank you for listening


        1. Yes, you would certainly fail, and here’s why. You said, “I guess I would fail before I even started… ” As a writer, you can’t afford that mentality. You have to psyche yourself up. If you can’t believe in yourself, believe that God can and will give you the ability you need. Don’t let your own words defeat you. Deb


          1. Hi Deb,
            Thank you for that word of truth,I always lacked confidence in myself except
            in my music,maybe because it is a special gift for me, and I didn’t realize until now,
            I never doubted myself in music, never, I just felt confident I could play & learn,
            Thank you for the quick reply, I sure enjoy these writing Tips, they’re great!
            Thank you for honesty,
            Happy Day!


            1. Hey Deb,
              Thanks for the idea, I know you’re right, you’re the expert here,
              So I will try your instructions, just to learn if they work me,

              I get angry in real life , but then I repent and get over it,
              I don’t guess that works the same way?
              I never realized the writer had to become so angry ,lol
              Thanks again


  2. Hi Deb ,
    I saw a movie one night ,”Nim’s Island,” this writer stayed in so much writing,
    She was afraid to venture outside her house, but her character whom she created,
    came to life and helped out to help the little girl who was in trouble.
    An exciting, clean movie.


  3. Hi Deb,
    This is a great Writing Tip, and I’m sure it is not so easy for some writers to Pretend
    That way, I know I would need to work on it, But, thank you, as always it is great!


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