Concrete Emotions

“Concrete” is the opposite of “abstract.” It’s also a hard, durable substance that can be used to make foundations, walls, roads, etc.

The story I’m currently rewriting involves a lot of emotion. The main characters each have a magical ability to sense the feelings of other people or creatures they are bound to. One thing I’m trying to do as I rewrite is make the emotions real to readers.

My friend Oddstuffs is very good at this. When she’s published and you can all read her work, watch for this. She has a unique knack for describing emotions in visceral terms that grab you by the front of your shirt and make you pay attention.

So instead of writing something like, I could sense Chayña’s disappointment, I say, I felt the chill of her disappointment, adding in a term you can reach out and feel. But even better is when I can link the feeling to a visceral sensation both my main character and readers associate with the emotion, often with a simile or metaphor. I felt the chill of her disappointment–like icy water sliding down my throat.

Personifying emotions is another tactic to sprinkle into a story. I could write about how rage clawed at the inside of my chest, or somesuch, rather than simply stating I was enraged.

These kinds of concrete descriptions are extra fun when the text is read aloud. They add a lot of life to a narrative, and can make it more memorable. They’re durable (like concrete).

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Happy Yarning.

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4 thoughts on “Concrete Emotions

  1. I’ve been trying to do that with a character in The Gods’ Blessings who has the magical ability to sense everybody’s emotions around him. I tried using a lot of nature metaphors with it, but feedback was that it came back more confusing. Guess I’ll keep rewriting it until I get it right.

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