Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Wheel of Emotions

Opinions differ about the depiction of emotion in fiction. Some writers feel that the most important action takes place in characters' hearts, and see the protagonist's emotional growth as an essential component of the narrative arc, perhaps even the main story line. Other writers, whether out of skepticism about the human capacity for change or a preference for plot movement on the physical plane, focus more on occurrences in the external world than internal reactions to those occurrences. I fall somewhere in between, filling in more emotion for characters who are in touch with their feelings and less for characters who keep things close to the vest (or are just plain shallow); some characters—like some people—are simply less knowable.

Wherever one falls in this discussion, the Wheel of Emotions, or The Emotion Wheel (courtesy of the The Writer's Circle group on Facebook) can be a helpful tool. The wheel provides a comprehensive taxonomy of emotion, from deep core feelings (fear, anger, happiness) to more particular manifestations (anxious, frustrated, joyful) to distinct forms of those manifestations (overwhelmed, irritated, ecstatic), all of which is handy both for writers trying to effectively convey their characters' inner worlds and for anyone who wants to know what makes human beings tick.

                                     More pieces about writing on Truth and Beauty: 

             "Magic A is Magic A" and other elements in the Periodic Table of Storytelling
                                  Charles Bukowski: So You Want to Be a Writer?

                                                First and Last Sentences

                                                The Emotion Thesaurus

                                                    * Follow Dan Benbow on Twitter  

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