Imagine, if you will, you’re reading a World War II novel.
The main character has sent her loved one off to France, and the last she heard, he was missing in action. Her hopes of wearing her mother’s wedding dress and standing beside him in the chapel are dashed to pieces, right along with her heart. After all, missing might as well mean dead in this crazy war.
As the story goes on, the war ends and men begin coming home, but no sign of her fella. She attends the victory party at the town hall, not because she wants to, but because her mother thought it would cheer her up. She’s just picked up a glass of punch, turns to the door, and sees a familiar figure.
And the author says, “She felt thrilled.”
Were you thrilled? Did you experience any emotion with that sentence?
Early in my writing career, I was taught to only use the word “feel” if my character was physically touching something. Instead of saying “She f elt” or “He had never felt more …,” describe it.
What do I mean? When you feel something, various things happen in your body. Tell us that. Here’s an example, using the earlier scene.
She picks up her glass of punch, turns and leans against the table. In the doorway, a familiar figure stands tall. Her heart skips a beat, and then starts a race she isn’t sure she can keep up with. Could it be?
Her eyes trace from the boots all the way up to the navy jacket, caressing each inch of the precious body. Not even a scratch on his face. Her hands flutter to her chest, the glass slipping from her fingers and shattering unnoticed on the floor at her feet. Tears blur her vision and she quickly blinks them away.
A sound somewhere between a laugh and a scream bubbles up from her belly, escaping around his name. Disregarding her high heels, she dashes across the crowded floor, pushing people out of the way. Nothing matters right now but being in his arms, knowing he’s real. He’s home.
Did you experience that? It covers a little more than thrilled doesn’t it? So now, go challenge yourself. Do a search for the word “feel” or “felt” or anything else that goes with it. See if you can strengthen it by removing it and describing what they’re actually going through. Did their pulse race? Did their temperature rise? Were there tears? Shakes? Butterflies? Use as many senses as possible, and see what you can do.
Amy R Anguish, author of An Unexpected Legacy, grew up a preacher’s kid, and in spite of having lived in seven different states that are all south of the Mason Dixon line, she is not a football fan. Currently, she resides in Tennessee with her husband, daughter, and son, and usually a bossy cat or two. Amy has an English degree from Freed-Hardeman University that she intends to use to glorify God, and she wants her stories to show that while Christians face real struggles, it can still work out for good.
Check out her new book, Faith & Hope, available now.
Her new book, Saving Grace, releases September 2020.