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!
O is for Overwhelmed: to be excessively or completely overcome or overpowered in mind, feeling, body, or spirit.
This is a widely used emotion in fiction. After all, if a character is overwhelmed by his circumstances, he’s bound to experience tension and conflict, the key ingredients in every work of fiction. But people react to this emotion in various ways.
Some show no outward signs and keep their resulting emotions hidden, and that’s the key, really. Being overwhelmed is not so much the emotion itself, but rather that which incites what overtakes us, like fear and anxiety or love and tranquility.
While there are many actions to show how a character physically experiences being overwhelmed, many feel cliché and overused like shaking all over or the character's arms curling his body. I think, since the impact of this emotion is so internal and visceral, a more effective way to show it is to really get into the character’s head as they pace around, mumbling and contemplating the repercussions or circumstances that have overwhelmed them.
In my own novel, The Mistaken, the main character deliberates the serious ramifications of his violent actions. (Edited for length.)
I paced the floor around me, unable—perhaps unwilling—to process the reality of what I had just done...the severity of the mistake I had made, and the dire consequences that now faced me, my brother, and the wounded woman cowering in fear and humiliation in the corner. The reality was that through the hazy cloud of alcohol and pills, I believed delivering a degrading punishment would somehow empower me, fulfill my need for revenge, and expunge the hate, grief, and rage that filled me. I thought my mind might be rewarded with a sense of balance, my soul a thread of justice, and my heart a measure of peace.
But I despised myself for the act...I could not have sunk any lower had I taken a human life with my bare hands...I was an abomination, a monster...
Whoever said vengeance is sweet was wrong. It’s the thought of vengeance—filtered through memories that haunt and torment—that is sweet. Not the act itself. The act is vile and bitter, and I felt physically ill as it filled me, as I realized...the pain, fear, and humiliation I had caused.
How do you react when you are overwhelmed?
by Tricia Zoeller
Releases May 10, 2013
Cover art by
Claudia at Phatpuppy &
Ashley at Bookish Brunette Designs
"With the police and a killer hot on her trail, can shapeshifter Lily Moore solve the mystery of being First Born or will family secrets prove deadly?"
Find Tricia Zoeller here: