"I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions."
As a writer, I can tell you that for me, writing emotion is one of the hardest parts of the entire process. We are in the habit of description--if we go out to the store and see something interesting, we always come home and describe the scene or item to someone else--it's ingrained in us. Dialog is easy too--after all, we speak all day long every day, and it is not too difficult to transfer those conversations to the page. [Especially if you are in the habit of speaking to yourself in your mind as well as audibly. :]
But emotion! Emotion is the vapor of a moment--elusive, shadowy, abstract, yet so very important. If we had no emotion, there would be no reason to write. What a sorry world this would be if the writer put no emotion, no heart, into her words, and the reader took no interest, felt no quickening of his pulse, as he read. We would have lost the very keystone of a novel: to transport the reader to worlds, adventures, and stories not his own, but indelibly connected to him through human sympathies and emotions. Ah, there we go again with that emotion.
There must be some level of emotion in each scene you write--if it is overdone, you run the risk of being labeled melodramatic. If it is underdone, your reader will have no interest in turning the page. After all, he could gain more satisfaction from picking at the dry toast-crumbs on the tablecloth than reading yet another heartless description, or soulless dialog. Emotion is defined as "A state of feeling." As writers, it is our duty to conduct the feelings of our readers with our words so that the reader becomes the character in the book. As Emily Dickinson said, "There is no frigate like a book to take us lands away..." That phrase is our missions as writers. We work to craft our words until our readers forget they sit on a prosaic sofa in a shabby room, and believe--nearly--that they are the ones wielding the sword, slaying the villain, winning the maiden, waiting to be rescued, etc. It's a labor of love, for it is not easy, this passage to "lands away."
So we see the need for emotion, and the frailty of it. What now? How can we describe something that we ourselves often can't even put a finger on in our own lives? I would say, put on the part of an observer. Watch other people, and pay attention to your emotions, that you may learn how to write emotion into a scene. One mistake many writers make is thinking that there are three emotions--that is as false a statement as saying there are three legs on a centipede. (unless the said centipede is a veteran of a very cruel buggy-war...) But there they stand: Sorrow, Anger, Joy, and everything in-between is void and without form. This class of writers borders on melodramatic. After all, how many of you only feel those three emotions? Does it then make sense to subject your poor characters to such extremes? There are so many precious feelings in the midst of those three pillars. We can no more disregard merriment, or shame, or amusement, or wistfulness, or pride, or embarrassment, or yearning, or contentment than the centipede could walk as a three-legged bug.
Find a place for these emotions and learn how to write them in such a way that they are palpable. Your readers will thank you, and your characters [if they were real, and I'm not that certain some of them aren't. ;] will thank you. And, if it must be known, I will thank you. ;) ~Rachel
"...These earth-people, always striving over something. And writers were the worst of the lot. Cecily wondered what they found quite so intriguing about the process. They could not be content with their own lives, but had to go poking about making more trouble for perfectly self-respecting characters who did not want to be bothered with kidnappings and murders and wars over kingdoms. She ought to know."
~The Scarlet-Gypsy Song by Rachel Heffington