Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, journaling, Revision, Writing

Manuscript Revisions and Character Emotion

     Last post had to do with character sketches. Now how do you get these characters to come to life, how do you (me in this matter) give these characters emotion? And you can’t use words like “angrily, excitedly, sadly,” or any other emotion ‘tags,’ and adverbs, such as “…she said, angrily.”

      Think of the characters in your favorite novels: Jane Eyre, Jo March, or Winnie the Pooh. The elements these favorite fictional characters have are: 1) We identify with them in some way that speaks to our own experiences, 2) We identify with the goal we want to see them achieve, 3) we empathize with them and their world; they evoke our emotions.


     When I review the comments on my 5 pages of  ms from my last two critique groups I find that the bane of my revisions has been failing to give my characters enough emotion. Yes, they are likeable and beliveable, but something is missing.This has led to a few hours of research on the topic ” How does a writer infuse a fictional character with emotion?”
     I didn’t type that question into Google, maybe I should have and saved myself a few hours, instead I read blog posts by authors. And I found a few. A very easy method came from the blog of writer Alisa Valdes-Rodgriguez, author of “The Dirty Girls Social Club,” and seven other novels. She’s at   She posted a blog about journaling and noted “ I write my novels and blog posts on a computer, but when I journal I do it longhand. I think there is a different organic thought process that occurs when writing by hand than there is when typing. For me, writing longhand gets me in touch with my feelings and thoughts more directly than typing.” 
     I’ve been journaling for twenty-five years now and it never dawned on me that we use a different thought process when writing by hand. Now she didn’t say this is how to infuse your character with emotion, but I extrapolated this onto my quest to give more emotional depth to my protagonist, Lili, and the story. I took the first ten pages from my ms, printed them out, and sat down in a quite spot to ‘journal,’ after each scene in which Lili appeared. My question was “How does Lili feel about…” With pen in hand it wasn’t long before I started writing. I transferred these thoughts onto the ms and began new revisions.

     Tonight I have another critique group to attend. I hope the journaling, on Lili’s behalf, did the trick. If it does, or doesn’t, I’ll let you know.

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