Friday, 24 April 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015 - Emotions & Reactions - U is for Unhappiness (writing discussion & fiction)

A to Z Challenge 2015 - Emotions & Reactions









This year for the A to Z Challenge, I'm investigating emotions and reactions and their use to in writing. So, I'll be talking about my first thoughts as a writer when I think about the words we use to describe emotions and my experience of their use in literature.

unhappiness
unhappiness: the feeling of sorrow, sadness, dejection.

Unhappiness, unlike some of the recent emotions/reactions I've been talking about, can have a full range of intensity. It can go all the way from disgruntled to despair. It's one of those words we can use politely in a sentence to convey a whole heap of disgust when we say, "I am very unhappy!"

As writers, we can play with 'unhappy'. Roald Dahl often has children at the centre of his stories who live lives that make them all ranges of unhappy. James in James and the Giant Peach is an unhappy child, he lives with two horrible aunts after the death of his parents, his life is really awful. This leads him to seek happiness, set in motion when he spills the wizard's potion onto the peach tree. Matilda, too, has to suffer her ignorant family, knowing she is different. She runs away from the unhappiness she has over her family into books, and ultimately discovers happiness in the love of Miss Honey, her teacher.

The subtlety of unhappiness is that a character may not even know they are unhappy until something comes along to contrast with their life and what they are used to. I think this may be true for Demelza from Poldark. She has lived in poverty all her life, she accepts beatings from her father as if they are totally normal. Not until Ross Poldark takes her in does she see a different life, one where people can be generous and kind, and she never wants to return to her father.

So, we can use 'unhappy' in many different ways, but we must be precise - what type of unhappy are we thinking for our characters - how does this make them react - do they even recognise their own unhappiness?

QUESTION: Do you have ways of combating unhappiness?

~

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20 comments:

  1. I think everyone has a way to fight unhappiness. Each is probably different, and is according to how unhappy they are. When I'm truly down and out, I tend to look for one reason why it's not as bad as I see it.

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    1. That is a good way to look at things. I have to remind myself sometimes that I actually have a really good life compared to others not born into the safety of the English countryside.

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  2. Snuggling with the cats is usually a good cure. Or a good run. Or... if all else fails, chocolate ice cream. :P

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    1. Now I'm with you on the first and the last of those ideas :)

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  3. Unhappiness can also lead to full-blown depression. I'v dealt with that before...

    To combat unhappiness I pet my kitties, give myself alone time, and talk to someone who will listen.

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    1. I have never had depression, for which I am very thankful, but I hope I have been there for friends who have.

      Kitties always help :)

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  4. I think a good way to battle unhappiness is by gratitude of what one has; especially the things we take for granted, clean water, warm place to sleep at night, etc., since so many don't even have the basics of life. Having said that, I still struggle with unhappiness with situations, but try to divert my mind to more pleasant things.

    betty

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    1. It is good to be thankful, although sometimes, you're right, it still doesn't always help.

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  5. So very true. An unhappy character can be motivated to move the story along, seeking happiness.

    I turn on some good music or kiss my Snookums to make myself happy.

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    1. Both of those are good ideas (if we have our own Snookums that is! ;P)

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  6. I like to do something a bit mindless but I'm good at to combat unhappiness. Like play Tetris or knit. I can see something take shape or win and that picks me up.

    ~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Member of C. Lee's Muffin Commando Squad
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

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    1. Achievement - cool way to get rid of the doldrums :)

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  7. I like to listen to music and sing or just hang out with my kids, that always cheers me up.

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    1. I don't have kids, but I like to hang out with my family, they cheer me up :)

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  8. Unhappy characters have got a reason to change things so that makes a good story. My 6-year-old's antics always cheer me up!

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    1. I have come to the conclusion that kids are in the world to surprise adults :)

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    1. Some music cheers me up, other music makes me stick my fingers in my ears ;P

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  10. When I read about characters who are unhappy or at a crossroads in their lives, I look forward to seeing how they work through it to eventually find joy. On those days when I'm in a funk, like storytreasury, I enjoy listening to music or watching a funny sitcom on tv. Great post!

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    1. I know what you mean about watching TV - and for me, as long as what I'm watching takes me out of myself and into the story, I find it helps.

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Thanks for stopping by - I'd love to hear from you. :)