Paper Wrapping

Beware!
Watch your fingers
And open this gift carefully
For there was a time
When it was strong,
Encased in steel,
But now the outer layer
Is nothing more
Than thin wrapping paper –
Tacky
Littered with stars and circles
In ugly colours –
So take your time
And make sure you use
A delicate touch
Especially over my heart,
Where the paper is thinnest
And has been taped back together
So many times
That the colours have faded
And the shapes,
Distorted,
Are no longer solid.
So as you peel away this wrapping
Each layer
Slowly revealing more
Of what is truly hidden beneath,
Remember that one day
I may have to tape it back together again
And if you do not
Take care, if you tear
This paper to pieces,
There may be nothing left
To put back together.

verge

Great imagery, fantastic writing.

rough airy notes
heavy with the weight of blunt sincerity
still rise easily to the back of my throat
they sit on my tongue and
threaten to spill over
bubbling and boiling vigorously
desperate to be heard

i swallow them down
and wait
for patience to wear thin
for honesty to layer thick
for self control to drip dry

until then
i’ll always be on the verge of telling you
i love you

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what the world can’t give

The P.S. at the bottom makes this poem that much more interesting, imagining the two moods of the author on the different days that the two parts were written.

Bittersweet Sensations

On days when I’m mad,
I see sad eyes.
People—
tired of their lives.
A refuge,
that’s what they seek.
But nothing that the world can give.

On nights when I’m pleased,
I hear joyous laughter.
Friends—
turn into lovers.
More time,
that’s what they need.
But nothing that the world can give.

Discover Challenge’sRadical Authenticity.

P.S. Authenticity in the eyes of a woman who was mad for a day since she woke up; it didn’t help that the world went against her during that time. I wrote the first four lines when I was commuting to work and the rest when I was going back home, different days, different emotion.

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Self-Abuse

Windswept on the porch with eyes as cold as steel
Jacket torn to shreds by the bitterness of night
I have returned to you again
As apparently
I cannot escape from the sphere of your influence

A face somewhere there, settled between the bruises
Shoes soaked in the blood that fell from my wrists
I am incomplete without this
So it seems
Because I come crawling back every time

Cheeks dripping from the torrent of tears
As the self-hatred washes over me yet again
I am the recluse who sinks
Back slowly into
The dark corners of my mind

You, who has controlled me
You, this other me
My soul of misery

Emotion: The Significance of Word Choice

It is not just how you write that can have an emotional impact on your readers. Delving into what your character feels and how they react can elicit a strong emotional response, but emotional can also be expressed by smaller signals in your writing that hint, catch the reader off guard, or build up to something that is far greater than themselves.

The theme for this month has been emotion. The topics we have already discussed are:

  1. Identify where to place the emotion

  2. Show, don’t tell

  3. Use the scene to boost (or contrast) emotion

  4. How would your character – not you – react?

Today, we are going to consider the impact of word choice on emotion.

Words can convey many different things. Some words can convey humour or passion – think of little “add on” words that your character can say, such as “woo-hoo!” or “wow!”. In the same way, you can also convey things like uncertainty (“um …”) or boredom (“uh-huh”). The list is endless. All of these words trigger something small within the reader. Look at the way the Avengers react to Captain America saying “Language!” in The Age of Ultron. It tells you something about how the character is feeling or developing as a person.

Having an awareness of your word choice is a key emotional technique in writing. Think carefully before throwing soft, light, fluffy or funny words into a serious or dark scene – although, of course, you can do so if you wish to have that effect. In a serious scene, she probably wouldn’t giggle – but she might cackle. He probably wouldn’t smile – but he might sneer.

In the same way, common actions can be affected by word choice and develop or enhance your character to help create an emotional image. Do they request or do they demand? Do they put something on the table or do they throw it on the table? Do they hold your hand or do they grasp your hand? There are all examples of how word choice can change the mood of a scene or reveal the emotional response of a character.

Hopefully, you feel more confident about using emotion in your writing after this month – I know I do when I think about the importance of emotion and these writing tips. It can seem like a very daunting thing at first, to place powerful emotions into your writing, but if you do it with confidence and patience then you might be surprised by how effective it is. Practice makes perfect, of course!


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.

Emotion: How Would Your Character React?

One of the key things that we as writers need to be able to do is get into the mindsets of other people. This is how we can create our characters and their experiences, from the experiences of the lonely character in a short poem to the experiences of a fantasy warrior in a novel. When we think of how our character reacts to situations, these need to be realistic reactions that reflect their background and knowledge. One way that we can do this is by tapping into our character’s emotions.

The theme for this month is emotions. We have thus far considered the importance of emotions, by thinking about how we can identify the important emotional parts of our writing, how we can show emotions instead of telling them, and how we can use the scene to boost emotions. Today, we’re going to think about how we can apply emotions to our characters.

The most important thing to remember here is that your character is not you. Just because you would react in a particular way to an event does not mean that your character would react in the same way. Think about it like this: when some people find out that their partners have cheated on them, they can forgive them (for various reasons); others will call off the relationship (again, for their own reasons). Neither person is necessarily stronger than the other. If your character is in that situation, then you need to figure out how they would react to it and not how you think they should react.

A good way to establish how your character might be likely to react is to look at their history. For instance, if the character’s parents betrayed one another when they were a child but somehow managed to make their relationship work afterwards, then the character may be more likely to try to make their own relationship work following a betrayal, too. On the other hand, if they have moved from friend to friend throughout their life without looking back and have become used to packing their bags and moving on with their life, then they may find it easier to leave.

You can also establish the personality traits of their character that may affect their emotional reaction (remember, how they react on the outside may not be how they feel on the inside). A character who wants to look strong may leave their partner even if it breaks their heart. A character who is aggressive may approach their love rival and attempt to “get rid” of them. A character who is family focused may stay with their partner even if they know they are being cheated on.

The emotional reaction of your character to a given situation needs to feel genuine to the reader. You can practice getting into the emotional mindset of your character by putting them in different situations and using their background, life, cultural history, personality, and other traits to establish how they are likely to react. It’s not always easy to let your character lead the way – but it results in a smoother, more natural reaction.


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.

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.

Emotion: Show, Don’t Tell

Your readers may not be able to associate with everything that you write about: not everybody is married, or has had children, or has been to New York, and so on. However, one thing that we can all connect with is emotion. Being madly in love with someone (or something). Being around excited children. Visiting a lively, bustling place. Emotions can connect our readers to things that they have never witnessed or experienced before.

Our theme for this month is emotion. We have already thought about where we should include emotion in our writing so that it can have the biggest impact on our readers. Today, we’re going to think more about the actual act of writing emotions.

There are lots of ways to write emotions. You can make them raw and simple, or you can build up dramatic scenes, use elaborate metaphors, describe expressions or body language, and utilise the power of speech. Each of these methods (and more) can create the emotion that you desire, but one important thing to remember is: show, don’t tell.

Let’s take a look at an example. You could say:

“She was so sad that she cried.”

This is a fine sentence, but it isn’t tugging at anybody’s heartstrings. So, instead, perhaps you could say:

“As the sadness descended upon her, she felt tears slide down her cheeks.”

Now the emotion is starting to build in the sentence, but I’m still telling when I mention that she is sad. Let’s try to describe sadness without mentioning the emotion directly:

“She flopped down onto the bed like dead weight, as tears began to slide down her cheeks.”

I could go further: her lips could tremble, she could whimper, or the tears could become heavier. This sentence is just the beginning of a description that could get more emotional if the writer desired it. I will not go on, but we can see that there is much more emotion in the final example than in the first. We are no longer telling anymore.

We’ve all told rather than shown at some point, and depending on how much detail there is in one piece of writing, that may not be a bad thing. Why not go back through something you have written before to see if you have changed an emotion you told into an emotion that you can show?


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.

Emotion: Identify Emotional Parts of your Writing

Every writer desires the ability to use their written words to evoke strong emotions from their readers. This might be something as simple as happiness or sadness, or it could be more complicated emotions, such as the rush of excitement, the sinister chill of fear, or the steady building of tension. This is particularly true of poets, who may wish to focus solely on a single emotion, but it can also help readers of longer pieces of writing to connect with our characters, scenes, and plots.

This month, we are thinking about emotion. I like to explore topics which we, as writers, think about every time we put pen to paper, essential parts of the basic craft. Emotion is just that: it’s what writing is supposed to do. Your readers come to you to experience something as simple as a laugh or deep enough to make them ponder their own existence.

There is a lot that can be said about emotions. But there seems to me to be no better place to begin than by thinking about which emotions should be portrayed, and where exactly in your piece of writing they should be found. In the case of a lot of poetry, this may be throughout the entire poem, although for extra impact I suggest using the metaphor, word or description that encourages the strongest emotional reaction out of you at the end. A poem has a greater wow factor if it ends on something big, bold or raw – and leaves the final line or verse to flicker through the reader’s mind again and again.

Of course, longer poems and stories may contain a number of emotions. It may be interesting in poetry to contrast two emotions with one another, or even to connect them in an unusual way. In stories, your readers often experience the majority of emotions through your characters, what they went through in the past, and what they endure during the story. This means that when something significant or emotionally relevant happens, you as the writer need to identify it as an important point for emotion.

How long should it last for? How deeply should it affect the character? It may take a bit of practice, but you need to be able to recognise when a part of your story has emotional significance and pay it due attention.

Writing emotion involves the words you use, the images you create, and the way that your character(s) or scene reacts. We will think more about that next time – once you’ve figured out where in your piece the emotion will have the biggest impact on your reader, then you can start fleshing it out.


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.