Emotion: Sunday Philosophies

On Sundays, I walk without my iTouch. Instead of listening to books, I listen to what’s going on in my head. This is what developed today.

I see a worrisome lack of Whole Person self care in people around me. In school, a teacher is trained to address the Whole Child–the human states I’ve abbreviated to Emotional, Intellectual, Physical, Social, and Spiritual. Do you nurture these states in yourself? I’m giving myself the challenge to do so.

For this post, I want to consider Emotional–both my own personal self care and for the characters in my latest book.

In child development, students learn to identify negative and positive emotions and coping strategies. I’m not sure what I learned has stuck. This week I plan to pay attention to my emotional states and reactions. I’d like to see if I tend to the more positive than negative, and engineer change if I’m not.

How about my fictional humans? I have a good friend who is writing a book on emotional threads and arcs in writing a novel. I’m seeking to diversify and deepen the emotional tone of my latest book, scene-by-scene, through the characters and actions.

Paul Ekman came up with six basic emotions: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise. He later expanded these with the help of two students to: amusement, awe, contentment, desire, embarrassment, pain, relief, and sympathy in both facial and vocal expressions. Other facial expressions showed boredom, confusion, interest, pride, and shame, as well as contempt, interest, relief, and triumph. Robert Plutchik suggested grouping emotions positive or negative, basic to complex to form the full spectrum of human emotional experience. Check out his emotion wheel here.

In my current book, am I showing the full spectrum of my characters’ emotional experience? Or at least something that feels authentic and engaging?

I’m still working on the discovery draft but wouldn’t it be fun to ensure that I show the characters not just happy or sad, bored or in love? I may just challenge myself to address Paul Ekman’s expanded list.

Humans? Are you paying attention to your Emotional, Intellectual, Physical, Social, and Spiritual health? Are you content or concerned with your emotional well-being?

Writers? What are your challenges or skills in showing your characters’ emotional states?

In writing my long short story Found Dead in Arugula, I had to take Faith from finding her neighbor dead in her vegetable garden to being the prime suspect in his murder investigation to meeting the only man she’d loved after decades apart to finding the killer and finally to transforming her life. That’s a fertile field for her emotions. The book is sized for a lunchtime read at only 99 cents. Check it out here.

Thanks for tuning in! Happy reading, writing, and feeling.


About mlknowlden

In 2011, I left engineering to write full-time. Between the years 1992 and 2011, I’ve published 14 stories with Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine that have featured the hypochondriac detective Micky Cardex and two stories that did not. The 1998 story “No, Thank You, John” was nominated for a Shamus award. Many of these stories have been included in anthologies and translated in multiple languages. With Neal Shusterman, I’ve also published a science fiction story for the More Amazing Stories anthology (Tor) published in 1998 and co-authored with Neal Shusterman an X-Files Young Adult novel (DARK MATTER) for HarperCollins in 1999 under the name Easton Royce. For Simon & Schuster in July 2012, we published an e-novella UNSTRUNG in Neal's UNWIND world. I have graduate degrees in English and Electrical Engineering.
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