Feel Angry Now
Bad Writing: An author assumes the reader feels the same emotion the character does.
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(permanent link) added: 2011-12-10 03:43:16 sponsor: ParkourPaisho (last reply: 2014-06-29 08:21:50)

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"I made mistakes in drama. I thought drama was when actors cried. But drama is when the audience cries."
Frank Capra

Some authors make the deadly mistake of assuming that if a character is feeling an emotion, the reader automatically does, too. A Show, Don't Tell sister trope to That Makes Me Feel Angry, but instead of the characters saying they're feeling an emotion, the characters wildly act through the the emotion, trying to evoke the same emotion in the reader.

It's a common misconception in writing that the reader shares in the emotions the character is going through. Little does the author know that the emotions of a character and the reader are intrinsically separate. Bob can be walking on sunshine right after he shoots his son's dog, but needless to say the readers are weeping their eyes out. Carol can descend into an unfeeling catatonia after being struck on the head, but the readers are riled up into an Unstoppable Rage at the perpetrator. The Big Bad may burst into tears right after the Crowning Moment Of Awesome, yet the the audience cheers with euphoria.

  • Characters who are sad don't always cry.
  • Characters who are crying are not always sad.
  • And how the reader's heartstrings are tugged is a different matter entirely.

Good Writing tip: Your characters are free to feel whatever they want; the emotions of the reader is determinant upon the surrounding circumstances, the consequences, how engrossed they are in the story, how deeply they care about the characters, and, of course, how well written the story is. You have to work to evoke emotion.

For related tropes, check out Bad Writing. It will tell you all you need to know.

As this is Your Milage May Vary and an Audience Reaction Trope, examples are subject to subjectivity.
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