Emotion: Use the Scene

I have always found that I have a strange fascination with dark subjects. This has helped me to make an emotional connection to writing with dark, sinister or depressing subjects. When I read something that really draws out these feelings, I can experience them a lot more than I might be able to feel the love in a romantic poem. You will likely have your own topics that cause you to emote more than others, too.

This month, we are thinking about emotion in our writing. There have been two posts so far: identifying where to put or enhance emotions, and show, don’t tell. Today, we’re going to think about another way that we can create emotion within our writing: using the scene to boost (or even hint at) emotion.

As last time, I used sadness, this time we’ll look at happiness. Let’s take a simple scene and try to add things in the background that can (generally) be associated with happiness.

Here is the scene:

“There was a market in the centre of town. We went there and saw many people who were talking and laughing merrily. The weather was pleasant.”

I have already set up this scene so that I can change things to boost the emotion. However, at the moment, the only mention of emotion is that people at the market are merry. The note that the weather was pleasant suggests happiness, and I believe that weather is a very good way of establishing emotion, but we need more of an explanation. Let’s try to build on the paragraph:

“In the centre of the town, a bustling market had been erected overnight. We visited to see that almost everybody who lived there had turned up to meet their friends, laugh away their worries, and sample the delicacies of the town. It was warm and bright enough to wear sunglasses, but a gentle breeze kept the heat at bay.”

There is now more going on in the scene: the market is full of people and energy, the people who visit forget their worries, and we know more about the weather. I could go further, by describing the sounds, tastes, smells, and so on in the marketplace (check back on the posts from March, on the Five Senses). But we can see that the scene at the market is preparing for something happy to take place – unless, of course, you want to turn the whole thing on its head, and surprise your readers by throwing something negative in there instead!


This month’s theme is EMOTION. If you have written something that you would like me to share on this blog on the theme of emotions, then please post a link in the comments or email me on lauramarieclark1@gmail.com with the subject: Emotion.

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