Today’s Quick-Write is about feelings. (Go ahead…sing it…”Feelings…whoa whoa whoa FEEEEEEEELINGS…” All set now? Okay.)
Today’s guest author wrote one of my favorite books I’ve read so far in 2014.
Varian Johnson lives in Texas, where he writes YA and MG novels. His latest, THE GREAT GREENE HEIST, is a page turner of a mystery, with a terrifically diverse cast of realistic middle school kids. I gushed more about it here. If you teach grades 5-8, you really need this one in your classroom library. And now…here’s Varian’s quick-write for today!
Thursday Quick-Write: Feelings without the “Feel”
I love emotional scenes in novels. Whether characters are happy or sad or in love or whatever, these scenes tell us so much about our characters’ wants and desires and dreams. However, the best scenes avoid telling us that the character “feels” a certain way and instead use context to show that emotion. From word choice to action to setting, we have a number of tools available to convey the emotional weight of a scene without relying on “I feel.”
Here’s a quick example:
Camilla huddled next to the main building, trying to hide from the early cold front that had brought low temperatures and windy skies. Stuffing her hands into her pockets, she watched as empty potato chip bags and wads of newspaper floated across the sidewalk, and resisted the urge to glance at her phone again.
Finally, the old red Ford pulled into the parking lot.
She marched across the empty schoolyard, her gaze on her tap shoes. She hadn’t bothered to change out of them. What was the point?
She yanked open the door and climbed into the cab. Her teeth rattled as she slammed the door shut behind her.
Her father reached over and placed his hand on her shoulder. “Camilla, I—”
“You’d said you’d be here.” She jerked away. “You promised.”
“I know. But we got busy. A guy came in at the last minute and—”
“It’s fine. Whatever.” She turned toward the window. “Just drive.”
For this quick write, try to write or revise a scene where characters are showing some type of emotion. But instead of stating that emotion, use everything else in the scene to convey how the characters feel.
Note from Kate: If you don’t have a work-in-progress, feel free to choose a scene from a favorite novel and rewrite the emotions using this strategy, or take a moment in history (George Washington crossing the Delaware, Rosa Parks sitting down on the bus) and write that using this technique. Feel free to share a snippet of your work in the comments!