I love this- in physics, a state of excitement is something at an energy higher than the ground state. What does that make me think of? Flying. It’s more than the day to day. More than the norm. It is excitement. One thing I have noticed about being engulfed in this emotion is that you don’t or cannot sit still. It is a boost in movement. A desire to do and dance and wiggle. Yes, it even arouses. Keep that in mind while reading this post. But first…
You know. A cuppa and nibble are on the schedule. I found these amazing chocolate wafer crackers to nibble. Join me around the magic machine and pour yourself a fresh cuppa. I will gladly share my crackers too. Get what you want and grab your copy of Creating Character Emotions by Ann Hood. Got it? Good. Meet us out on the reading rug and we will jump right in.
Have you ever witnessed excitement on another person’s face? It is a stunning glow of a broad smile, wide eyes, sitting on the edge of their seat, with a sharp intake of air, and a good friend of mine (Carl) would add a high pitched squeeeee to the list. You can see this. I know you can. Picture a child meeting Spiderman. Like, face to face introduction to their favorite hero. Or me meeting Jason Momoa. Tell me I’m wrong. That’s not just excitement it is also absolute joy. What does that look like to you? Not just the face but the body. The bouncing on their tippy toes. The constant giggles and bright red cheeks. The chanting of, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh…” Write that from toes to nose and back again.
As for the ‘other’ kind of excitement, think about how you felt way, way, WAY back in high school when you were waiting for your crush to get off the bus. It is that feeling of hope and possibility. It’s the sigh as you melt into the idea of holding their hand. Yeah, I’ve been there too. Other events that can boost your feelings are ‘firsts.’ Traveling to a new place, skydiving, flying overseas, bungy jumping. Some of these can be a mix of excitement and panic but you do you and I will keep my feet flat on the ground.
This is great and all, but it is also a pit of cliches. Deep, black, swirling pool of junk. Be careful not to fall in. The example Ann Hood gives are commercials. No one, and I mean, no one, is that excited over…toothpaste. Seriously, look at the face of the person brushing their teeth. Not only are they over the top excited but they aren’t flinging toothpaste slobber everywhere. See? Fake excitement. Because these ‘fake’ emotions are shoved at us day in and day out we have become jaded to the emotion. As a writer, that means I must work extra hard to make you, as the reader, feel the excitement my character is feeling.
The lazy way…
Destiny was so excited she could hardly sit still.
This is a show don’t tell no-no and it’s boring. Ooooooo, Destiny was sooooo blah blah blah. I lost me at telling me she was excited.
And please, do not use butterflies in the stomach. Face palm. No, you can do better than that. And, yes, there’s more, an exclamation point is just punctuation. It doesn’t mean the character is excited. It simply means the author was phoning it in. I! Can! Use! An! Exclamation! Point! And! Have! It! Mean! Nothing!
The simplest, yet most effective way to emote excitement is through physical response. I wrote a few examples throughout this piece. It’s wiggling in your seat, bouncing on your toes, clapping hands, blushing, blinding smile, gleaming eyes, when your heart jumps, stomach flips, and that high pitched squeeeeee as you dance around in a circle.
Practice Makes Better:
- Make an epic list of non-cliche physical responses. Take a look at the few I posted and see if you can add to it.
- Choose a moment of excitement in life. Example: Those last few moments before walking down the aisle to get married in front of all your friends and family. Or at the starting line before an Olympic race, or…the moments before you lost your virginity. Use language drawing feelings of giddy joy felt at those moments. Go crazy with it.
- Now, use #2 and write that scene using a bit more control. Write it in the way you would want others to read it. Use control without losing the emotion.
Polish your sparkle and keep twirling.
Find joy. Be joy. Enjoy.
I’m always looking for new friends!
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