Have you ever popped up out of bed smiling and glowing with happiness and ready for an amazing day? Yeah, me neither, but some people do. Yes, we dislike them. I’m not saying I don’t have good days cuz I do. They just don’t start out that way. I have to make up my mind to make my day awesome. But is happiness a long lasting ‘emotion’?
Nope, it only lasts as long as my cuppa stays full and hot. Right now, it is lukewarm and dwindling fast. Time to refill it and offer myself some serious self-love and show you what I mean about momentary happiness. Fill your favorite cuppa and grab your copy of Creating Character Emotions by Ann Hood and meet me out on the reading rug.
Why is happiness fleeting and does that mean you aren’t ‘happy’? There is a difference between happy and content. Happy is a momentarily burst of joy where being content is knowing your world is good and you are thriving in it. Mary O’Hara wrote in Thunderhead that, “Happiness hangs by a hair.” Happiness can be changed in an instant, but contentment is trustworthy.
How to write it.
Happiness is being asked to marry your partner where contentment is ten (or 30 like us) years of marriage. We have all felt that burst of happiness. It’s opening a gift and finding the one thing you always wanted. That’s awesome but where did that feeling go a day later? Now, you are content with the gift and enjoying it, but you don’t glow every time you see it.
I squealed with joy when Frankie, our chiweenie, was placed in my hands. That was nearly three years ago. Now, I smile when he does something silly, but I don’t squeal. Happiness makes us gooey with sweetness. We make noises of joy and bursts of laughter. We jump up and down and clap our hands. When you write happiness, remember it has a physical reaction.
Anna Pavlova described it as “like a butterfly which appears and delights us for one brief moment, but soon flies away.” We give ourselves over to happiness without question. Your character must emote this burst of feeling well enough to entertain and fully immerse your reader in the moment. Make sure you describe the moment in vivid detail. Draw your reader in with anticipation and response to the event.
Think about the moment your partner took a knee and held up a ring to you. Or see it from the eyes of the one down on one knee. You hold your breath and await the words. Your heart pounds, the blood rushes to your cheeks, your breathing comes in gasps, and your smile is so bright it could light up a city. Your hands shake from the blood pounding in your veins. Your voice quivers from fear. Make your reader feel these physical reactions.
Now, move on to the brain. Your emotions will run the gambit of fear, chaos, love, joy, and then back to fear. Will they say yes? Do they mean it or is this a joke? What if I mess up the words? There are a million questions that can and will run through your mind. These emotions trigger the physical responses. Connect them. Shaking in fear. Squealing in joy. Gasping in shock.
But…don’t cheapen the moment with, “I was walking on air.” Don’t be lazy with your descriptions.
- Make a list of as many physical descriptions of happiness you can. Stay away from the cliches. You know the ones.
- If the Ghost of Christmas Past visited you, where would they take you to remind you of a moment of pure happiness? How would you show your happiness at revisiting that moment?
- Do not choose the “expected” happy moment, like Christmas or a birthday to describe happiness. Pick something that is not the norm and show how someone can react with absolute joy. Make happiness fresh.
Until next time when we journey into writing…dum, dum, duuuuummmm,…Hate.
Please remember that I am not trying to write this book for you word for word. I am skipping a lot of detail. I highly suggest you purchase the book and read between the lines.
Polish your sparkle and keep twirling.
Find joy. Be joy. Enjoy.
I’m always looking for new friends!
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