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Emotions are the spice of literature

I was reading a client manuscript the other day and the plot was so inventive, yet the story wasn't compelling to read. Luckily I married a psychologist, and he diagnosed the issue.

Emotions are the spice of life and literature.

“Show, not tell,” is a mantra of writing teachers for good reason.

Even talented writers can skimp and state emotions instead of describing them. "She was a little embarrassed." "He felt angry." Yawn.

The key to describing emotions is not using dated metaphors but to remember a simple truth. You experience emotions with your body, not your head.

Here is your biology tidbit for the day. You have one brain in your skull, called your cerebral brain. The nerves in your gut act like a second brain. They all talk to each other and analyze the complicated information coming from your body, including important information you don't have conscious access to like scent-meaning and genetic memories. Your enteric brain contacts your cerebral brain via a single nerve column. Think of it as a closed-door senate. They have complicated deliberations, but at the end of the day, they make a yes or no vote.

We feel emotions in our skin, in our belly, at the back of our neck. We wilt in sadness, expand in anger. It is worth the extra time to describe these embodied emotions because they provide the motivation for your character.

So pay attention to those gut feelings, in your like and in your stories. It is smarter than you give it credit for.

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