Do Fictional Emotions Still Reflect Real Emotions?

Photo by Adrian Swancar on Unsplash

Most of us probably read novels and memoirs for the emotional journey that we get to go on with the characters of the story. That’s the best part of reading.

Today, I don’t want to blog about writing emotions, except to say that it is our job as writers to show emotion, not to tell readers how the character is feeling.

We show character emotion by what and how the character talks and how he uses his body. I remember one of Tom Cruise’s probably least well-known movies, it was called Cocktails. The girl he falls in love with gets pregnant and when she tells him about the baby, he’s shocked. He stupidly asks if the baby is his. She gets angry and tells him to leave.

He says something like, “You let me come up here just so you can throw me out, didn’t you?”

And she shakes her head with tears in her eyes and says, “ah huh” agreeing verbally to what she’s denying physically.

I love that scene because it’s perfect. That’s what we want to do as writers to show emotion. Use body language, statements, expressions together to show character emotion

But really what I wanted to say, and maybe it’s just more of an observation and a curiosity of what this means to me as a writer, but I’ve noticed lately that real people seem to either express their emotions excessively or not at all.

Maybe it’s a social media thing where people share the most intimate things and their opinions to the extreme, there are no moderate feelings. People do not get sad, but depressed. Events are not bad but tragic.

This has me wondering if it’s just the language people use or if they are real feelings. Do people feel these intense feelings?

Language tends to create feelings. If we describe our emotions as tragic or feel devastated about something, it creates a deeper feeling to match the language. Or are these actual feelings that are being described accurately?

I’m not sure what this means to me as a writer, except that if I want to reach today’s readership, I need to appropriately create characters that readers can relate to. When writing, my characters need to be believable to my readers which means that they may not be as subdued as they were…

Julia Amante - Fiction author, Speaker, Mentor.