Chapters and Emotions by K.M Joshi

Rick and Rita were best friends from high-school, and now, seven years later, Rick decided to ask her out. A few words, couple of drinks, and fifteen minutes later, Rick drove home, his grip on the steering wheel tightening every passing minute and his nose flaring. Scenes of Rita swearing at him rushed across his mind.
Okay, let's stop! That was interesting, right? And do you know why? Because of the emotional changes. 

chapters emotions writing
In this article, I shall share with you what I have found about this queer specimen after these long years of staring through a microscope at — wait what? Alright, alright, I'm going to share what I've found after all the time I've given up for reading. I'll keep it short, I promise!

The first thing that I found is that almost every good book's chapter has a similar trait when it comes to emotions. And by understanding this trait and copying it (not everything!), we can write stories that would make readers unable to put the book down. And all of us writers dream that, don't we?

Okay, enough talking, let's dive in.

Drum roll, please!

The primary goal of every writer is to draw readers. While there are many determinants that affect this, one of the most important ones is Emotion. Let me say it again, emotion. Or feelings.

In this article, I'll only talk about the usual traits of emotion found throughout a chapter and some other related things.
Here's what I've discovered after dissecting a chapter:

The first fact is that the beginning and the end of a chapter should never give a similar emotional sense. For example, let's take two characters on a date. At the beginning of the chapter, you describe how happy they are, and the readers will enjoy it. But if you write the end of the chapter with the characters remaining happy and going home contently, that's when the readers would put the book down.

For a chapter to be interesting, the emotion at the beginning should be different from the emotion at the end of the chapter. In the example above, let's suppose that the chapter ends with a very heated argument between the characters, and one of them runs off before the other can stop him/her, just like in the example I gave waaay back.
A lot more interesting, right?

So the first fact is: The Feelings/Emotions at the beginning of a chapter should be different from the one at the end. I have found that usually, it is best to have opposing emotions at the beginning and at the end, as in the example I've written above.

The second fact is that when the emotion the main character is feeling is different from the general emotion of the environment, the chapter becomes far more interesting. Let us take an example of a detective who has just lost his wife to a serial killer, and now he is sitting in a bar, drowning his sorrow. But the other people of the bar are all laughing and chatting, happy about their normal lives. That is when the detective would feel his loss most deeply, and we, as a writer, will have to take this opportunity to convey the emotion of the detective to our readers, which, ultimately, would make the character more real. And at the same time, such moments are the perfect time to get the characters to make decisions. In the detective's example, he might make his decision to find his wife's murderer while he's still sitting in the bar, because that's where his loss would most likely boost his sense of revenge.

So the second fact is: There should be differences between the emotion of the character and of the environment, especially when the character is making decisions.

The changes or fluctuations in the emotion in a chapter is one of the many factors that drives the story forward. Emotions are the basic things in a story that can create a link between the reader and the story. But how do we show these emotions? We're definitely not allowed to use emoticons!
As a writer, we have only words to show scenes and emotions. So, it is necessary to choose the right word and words' count to describe the emotions. It is generally accepted that for moments with anger, surprise, horror, shock and similar emotions, fewer words make the story interesting. And for scenes with happiness, pleasure, wonder and similar emotions, longer descriptions can create better effects.
There are no right words to describe emotions. If you're trying to show the emotions of the main character (the Point-Of-View character), you can use words to tell the emotions as well as their intentions. For example, if you are describing the feelings of a side-character, then you cannot directly claim his emotions. You have to use the main character's observations to hint the reader about the side-character's emotions. Perhaps the main character has noticed that the side-character is trembling with fear. There! We've told the reader about the side-character's feelings. And similarly, you cannot tell the reader about a side-character's intentions. For example, we cannot know whether a side-character is determined to do something.

Let's take a look at these example:

Wrong: Mike (POV character) could see the mountains on the far north. They were approaching the Tower. Despite the cold wind brushing against her thin clothes, Susan stood firm, determined to show no emotions to Mike. They walked on in silence.

Correct: Mike could see the mountains on the far north. They were approaching the Tower. Susan shivered slightly as a cold burst of wind blew from the mountains. Mike turned to look at her paled face. They walked on in silence.

The difference between these two examples is that the first one told the emotions and the intentions (italicised words) of Susan, the side-character, whereas the second one showed them. Since Mike is a POV character, it's okay to tell that he could see the mountains.

Written by K.M Joshi
Okay, I promised to keep this article short, so this is where I'll end it. I hope you learned a thing or two about emotions from this article.

Enjoy writing!

Article by K. M. Joshi

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