Friday, April 5, 2013

A to Z Challenge: E is for Excitement

Welcome to the 2013 A to Z Challenge!

This year, I’m focusing on two themes:  Emotions and grammar,
depending on which letter we’re on each day.

I’ll be sharing mostly what I’ve learned about writing emotion into a novel, but I’ll also be throwing in a few key grammar lessons, pet peeves I’ve picked up while working as an editor.

Today’s an emotion day!


E is for excitement:  the state of being stirred emotionally, agitated, aroused; stirred to action; a feeling of great enthusiasm or eagerness.

Excitement is the elevation of energy above what is normal, and is typically short term.  Quite simply, it’s all about anticipation, waiting for something to happen, big or small, good or bad, sexual or otherwise.  The expectation can be thrilling or dreadful. 

We generally think of excitement in positive terms, the promise of something that will no doubt lead to extreme happiness, or satisfaction at the very least.  But even so, it can lead to disappointment.  The other end of the spectrum is fear, which causes the same physical manifestations: a racing heart, constant motion, sweating, and trembling.

While it might seem relatively easy to convey excitement in a character, it’s more of a challenge to be original and avoid the cliché, like butterflies in the stomach or jumping up and down.  And simply adding exclamation points will not do the job!!!!!

You must show tangible expression of the emotion:  pacing, speed-talking, breathlessness, giddiness, hyperactivity, and the inability to calm down.  Show how the character’s face lights up, the way it affects his eyes and mouth, how his posture changes and body moves.  Most importantly, express how the outcome might change the life of the character forever.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

But I like exclamation points!!!!!!
I have one easily excitable character in my second book and he was fun to write about.

mooderino said...

Interesting link between excitement and fear. I should make more use of that. Thanks for highlighting it.

Moody Writing

Clare said...

Another excellent post Nancy. I'm going to bookmark all these, and refer to them when editing in the future! :D

Dani said...

I am guilty of the multi !!!! points. Two or three usually do the job for me!! lol
Dani @ Entertaining Interests

Mark Means said...

I agree...always -show- more than -tell-.

Andrew Leon said...

I have to extricate !s from my creative writing students' writing all the time.

Carrie Butler said...

Get excited about A to Z!!!!!

(Sorry, I had to. LOL)

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I'm with the Captain! If God didn't want us to use exclamation marks, then He wouldn't have created them, eh?!!!

Happy E'ing, Nancy!!!!

LD Masterson said...

Interesting. I tend to think of excitement as positive anticipation and fear as negative anticipation. Good to get other views.

Mary Kirkland said...

Thanks for the tips. And congratulations on the book.

Heather M. Gardner said...

Are you saying I have to go take out all my exclamation points? Darn it!

Great info, Nancy!

Jan Newman said...

Finding new ways to show character emotion is a challenge.

Jan at Website
Beyond Acadia
Faith Talk
Swamp Lily Review

Anonymous said...

I hate exclamation points in fiction writing. Blog posts or comments, fine, but not in my stories :)

Darla said...

Great reminder to show our excitement for our characters in unique ways. Each of us has quirks and that is fun to show and share this with others.

The Desert Rocks said...

I'm excited just reading this--great post! Ha,sorry I added an exclamation point.

L.G. Smith said...

Excellent!!!! :D

I've been having fun with the exclamation point all day.

Chuck said...

I have to agree with ALex...I like my EX PTS!!!!

Your posts on these topics are really good Nancy. And you already know I am in on reading your next book. Who wouldn't want to publish it??

Chuck at Apocalypse Now

Christine Rains said...

Great tips! It's all in the subtle details.

Su-sieee! Mac said...

I'm glad you stopped by Take 25 to Hollister. It may have taken awhile to have landed on your blog in this challenge. Emotions and grammar are two writing topics I need to shore up on. I notice you have something about commas that I must check out.

Trisha F said...

I've seen exclamation points mentioned a few times already for "E". hehe. It's a pity we have to be less lazy than just slapping on a bunch of exclamation points, isn't it?

Nah, not really... It's good to be challenged!