By SS Hampton, Sr.
All writers know, though sometimes-newer writers must be reminded, write from the heart. Pour your emotions into your writing. Your readers will pick up on the intensity and reality of emotions, they will empathize with your characters, they will relate to your characters, their situation, and therefore your story.
Happiness. What has made you happy? Do you remember how you felt when you proposed to your future spouse? Do you remember how you felt when she or he said yes? How about when your child was born, and you held the baby in your arms? How about the grin on the baby’s face the first time they walked (staggered) while you or your spouse held their hands so they wouldn’t fall? Can you describe this happiness in strong, descriptive words?
When I was moving to a new city my son and his girlfriend, with my first grandson, arrived for my farewell luncheon. My 9-month old grandson, carried by his mother, was looking around at all the people gathered in the hallway—the absolute and wonderful curiosity that all babies have. I grinned when I saw him. He saw me and a beautiful smile appeared on his little face. My grandson smiled at me!
Love. How would you describe your realization that you loved someone and wanted to spend the rest of your life with her or him? Do you remember, as a child, how you felt when you loved your mom and dad, or perhaps your sisters and brothers? You might say happiness is easy, easier than love.
My life has been such a roller coaster that love, other than for my children and grandchildren, has always been a fleeting experience.
Pain. This might be the strongest emotion of all, especially where it involves death. Be cautious when examining that area of emotions; sometimes you set loose “demons that you thought you had exorcised. Can you remember how you felt upon hearing of the death of someone? Not a stranger as in, for example, death reported in the news, but someone close to you? How would you describe your emotional reaction to death?
It is true that there is a body-wracking chill that accompanies the news. It can be a kick in the gut and followed by numbness followed by anger. And finally acceptance, because there is nothing else that can be done.
I suggest you sit back, close your eyes, and reach within yourself. Many times the emotions are pleasurable. Sometimes they’re not. But if you can put your emotions on paper and bring your characters to life, your reader will be rewarded by true, believable characters, and your writing career will advance.
SS Hampton, Sr. is a Choctaw from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 grandchildren, a published photographer, photojournalist, and fiction writer. He served in the Army National Guard 2004-2013 and is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle, and Iraqi Freedom. He retired on 1 July 2013 with the rank of sergeant first class. His writings have appeared in Ruthie’s Club, Lucrezia Magazine, Megaera, The Harrow, River Walk Journal, and Dark Fire, among others. His second career goals include becoming a painter and studying for a degree in photography and anthropology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology. After 12 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, he misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters. As of December 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Hampton officially became a homeless Iraq War veteran. His books include Intimate Journeys, Christmas Collectibles, and Second Saturday.
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