Inferring from emotion

So far we've seen examples where narrators tell us what they think: "This is great, that sucks, I live for the weekend, vegemite is a crime," and so on.

But we can also infer how a narrator evaluates or judges purely from their emotional reaction.

How does the narrator in this snippet feel when they approach the village?

I always get this burst of excitement when we are nearing the village because after we pass a school the country smooths out and to my left I see a dusty soccer field and the familiar faces of children who have grown a few feet taller since I was last there – and maybe some of them are in school now or have morphed into teenagers.

The narrator feels excited when they see a school and children they haven't seen for a few years, now growing up.

We infer that they think the village, school, and their return are good.

What if they had felt afraid? Or bored? Or angry? Then we'd infer the narrator thought these were bad in some way.

The emotions don't give us all the details about a narrator's opinion, but they give us a sense of whether the narrator wants to move towards or away from something.

(For more about this, see the lesson on Emotional cause & effect.)

Based on his emotional reaction, how does Frederik evaluate his hat?

I feel a glow of satisfaction whenever I place my giant black hat atop my bald turnip of a head, and hand in hand with Ilse, crowned in her white lace wimple, we parade up and down the footpath outside the den Houts, encouraging Mr Gustaf to do his business, though he always seems to hold It in until we got home, when he skulks off to do it in a basket of eggs or someone's shoe.

How does this Cody evaluate dropping into an empty pool?

There's a tingle before I go over the edge and then a deep jello-like thrill as I drop down, catch the surface, and then glide up into the rim, from where I can do loop after loop, like the perpetual motion machine they say science could never build.

This is actually a really nice improvisation exercise right here:

  1. Have your narrator do something—anything.
  2. Give them an emotional reaction—again, can be anything.
  3. And then expand on that reaction with descriptive detail to show where that emotion comes from.

(Try to avoid letting the narrator stating their values or judgments explicitly.)

Write a snippet that lets the reader infer the narrator's values or judgment from their emotional reaction to something.

These narrators have had lots of opinions.

Do they ever change their mind?