Monday, February 24, 2014

Coloring Your Writing

Apologies for the late post today.  I've had a bit of a family shake-up, as my aunt passed away last night.  Today has been spent making arrangements and trying to figure what to pack for North Dakota in the middle of February.  (Answer - every sweater I own, and a few more I'll have to buy.  Also, thermal underwear.)

I've found that, when I read through some of my earlier writing and journals, I can learn more about my mood at the time of writing from the way that I write than the words themselves.  It's something that I've found really helps flesh out a character's emotional state when writing, even if the character isn't speaking.  For instance, I've found that I tend to use shorter, simpler sentences when I'm very upset or angry.  Longer, more rambling sentences can mean that I'm either happy or anxious.

+Mary Robinette Kowal has spoken before (on the podcast Writing Excuses) about using breath in puppetry, and how it relates to writing.  Several short sentences used in succession gives the impression of speaking and breathing quickly, which makes the character sound upset or excited.  Using this kind of sentence structure when in that character's "head", even if they are not speaking, can give the reader a taste of what the character is feeling without dialog.  It makes the immersion experience for the reader a little smoother, and when done well, is nearly invisible.

What other tricks have you found to help set a character's mindset when they aren't speaking?  This is one of those skills I'm always looking to improve, so any ideas are always welcome.