Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A to Z Challenge: H is for Hatred



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!

__________

H is for hatred:  the feeling of disliking intensely or passionately; to feel extreme aversion for or hostility toward; to detest.

In order to experience hatred, we must first experience love.  The two go hand in hand.  Each are felt at the most visceral level possible.  But, as we age, the intensity of each mellows as we come to understand the complexity of what drives these feelings.  The two become less black and white and more varying shades of grey.  Therefore, hatred expressed in a Young Adult novel will seem more extreme than in an adult genre.

But, no matter the degree to which we feel hatred, it is still consuming.  It festers like a virus, growing, mutating, destroying the good that surrounds it.  Considering how inherent hatred is, it seems like it should be an easy emotion to write, to show, but I’ve found many authors fall back on overused, flat descriptions, or by simply having their character spew the words, “I hate you!”

Thing is, people don’t like to be caught hating.  It comes off as childish and undisciplined for an adult to shake their fist at someone, to spit while screaming, their nostrils flaring and their teeth snarling.  I prefer a more subtle approach. 

If the target of the character’s hatred is present, then, as his heart thrashes and his breathing quickens, only to be caught painfully in his chest, have him stare fiercely with hooded eyes, his jaw clenched, his shoulders rigid, and his neck knotted with tension.  Maybe have him mumble an insult or clearly word something then stomp off without giving his enemy the opportunity to engage.

And in the background, as common sense wanes and senseless contempt grows, show the character’s fixation as he works passively against his enemy.  Have him spread rumors, turn his friends against him, or sabotage him at work, school, or in a social situation, bringing humiliation, shame, and ridicule from all sides, all of which bring his enemy a sense of excitement, especially if he understands all that’s at stake.



18 comments:

Cynthia said...

I agree that hating someone is more than yelling out that you hate them. I think that people "hate" either because they feel that a party had wronged them OR because they are insecure and they need someone to be the target of their insecurities.

Ruth said...

I remember when I was a kid and I would say I hated someone and my mom told me that if I said I hated someone it meant I didn't care if they lived or died and that was wrong. That seems more like apathy. Anyway, that's why she said I shouldn't hate people.

Nick Wilford said...

Great tips here. No, not an easy thing to write for a lot of people as hopefully not many have been in that place of intense hatred. But it's powerful if written well.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Older people are more subtle and mellow about it and less likely to spout something stupid.

Dani said...

Oh I have feel some intense hatred for characters before. Intense. Hatred. lol.
Great post!
Dani @ Entertaining Interests
#warriorminion

Susan Roebuck said...

It's hard to feel true hatred, isn't it? But, as you say, it's a powerful emotion and a little disturbing one. As you say, some people love to hate :-)

Heather M. Gardner said...

Remind me to stay on your good side.

:)

Heather

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Hate is a powerful word. That word and "shut up" are banned in my house. I'd rather hear my kids say crap than "I hate ____" or "shut up"

C. Lee McKenzie said...

For me, holding on to hate is just too much of a burden. I dislike or am irritated, but hate is like a hot flash--it's here and gone quickly. I'm with Elizabeth on not being fond of the word, either.

Julie Luek said...

Hatred and love-- powerful forces on the same spectrum, I think. Motivation for both good and evil.

Andrew Leon said...

Hmm... I'm not certain that love is required for hatred on an individual level.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

We weren't allowed to say shut up or I hate you in our house growing up either. I must have been a tyrant, because I don't remember my sons saying either too often. To hate is so exhausting, so non-beneficial.

Great post, Nancy. Thanks!

Adriana Dascalu said...

hatred is a powerfull emotion! I think most of us use the word "hate" without really meaning it - just a way to show our disaproval of something or someone.

I'm very posistive today!

klahanie said...

Hey Nancy,

One must be careful with all-consuming hatred. Such negative feelings can hurt us more than those who have caused such hateful feelings.

Happy alphabeting, Nancy.

Gary

Ermie said...

Hatred is a tricky one to write - I think it's more powerful in fiction when a character is trying to contain it rather than lashing out.
Very interesting post. :-)

Carrie Butler said...

I hate the huge red wasps that found their way in here today. I couldn't work on my WIP. Haaaaaaaaaaaate...

Rebecca Green Gasper said...

Hate is such a deep emotion and hard to write...much more to it than just saying it.

Chuck said...

I think in your novel you expertly played the HATE emotion just right. You from whence you speak.

Chuck at Apocalypse Now