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.