If you are unaware of what my Emotional Journal is, allow me to share... As writers, we often think we know exactly what each emotion feels like, but when we write about it, it often becomes cliche or starchy-stiff.
One thing I do to combat this is to keep an Emotional Journal. Anytime I feel intense emotion, I journal about it. I note where I feel that emotion in my body, what my reaction was, if I said anything, or reacted in any way. This way, the next time I have to write about that emotion, I can SHOW how my character is feeling instead of TELLING about it.
Here is my entry this week for FEAR
Situation: Driving at night on rural rt. 523 with my girls. I wanted to see if my lights were working because I recently hit a deer and a passing car was flickering their lights at me. To me, this usually signals to slow down because a police car is lying in wait to catch someone speeding. Seeing that there weren't any cop cars around, I wondered if perhaps my light was out on the side that I hit the deer. I meant to only turn my flood lights off but instead I turned off my headlights and floodlights so that we were tooling down the road in pitch blackness. This particular part of rt. 523 is usually deer-infested and as I just said, I recently hit one so the fear was immediate.
What I felt: I felt the fear in the very souls of my feet. They tingled and felt as if they visibly arched upward as if they were being sucked up from some vacuum inside my body.
Daughter #2 said she felt her fear in her shoulders on her back… it tensed up tight and without realizing it, her hands gripped what ever they could.
Daughter #1 said she felt spiky tingles on the back of her neck.
Then we started talking about how fear feels differently for different reasons, like waking up from a nightmare in the dead of night when the house is quiet and still and you feel you are the only person awake and scared in the whole world. The loneliness and fear feel differently than it did on the black, country, deer-infested road.
For me, when I wake up in the middle of the night, fear, like an electric current, crawls up my back. I feel better if someone holds me with my back against their front—spooning me. I feel almost an acute awareness that I am not alone even though I feel so lonely at those times. I feel someone is watching me that I cannot see. The old “Boogie Man” in the closet or under the bed creeps right back as if I were 9 years old again. But this kind of fear is definitely a prickling sensation that starts at the base of my back and rolls all the way up, up my back, up my neck, and even to the top of my head. It comes in waves and just keeps rolling like that.
What are the different ways you feel fear?
Jill was one of the agents on our panel last year and I really wanted to meet with her then. She seems like a very nice, easy-going person and I can't wait to hear her constructive criticism on my newest novel, a YA sci-fi.
Wish me luck!