Tuesday, 28 April 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015 - Emotions & Reactions - X is for eXuberance (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 and film/TV.

exuberance: the quality of being full of energy, excitement, and cheerfulness; ebullience.
Yes, I know you saw what I did there, I cheated, but then x-words are few and far between, so I went with phonetics ;).

Now, I've already mentioned the Mr Men once in my exploration of emotions in 'literature', and you might think if I am doing it again I'd associate Mr Happy with this quality. However, you'd be wrong. The Mr Man I associate with exuberance is Mr Chatterbox. And, the reason for that is, although exuberance is associated with cheerfulness, for me, it's the energy, the (over) excitement of this reaction that hits me first.

Mr Chatterbox is friendly, happy, engaging, but he won't let you get a word in edgeways, and that is the thing about exuberance, it's an all-encompassing reaction, it takes over the character experiencing it, and it can lead to them dominating the situation which they are in, either to the betterment, or detriment of the other characters.

An exuberant character can sweep others along with them, lifting the mood, winning friends, and this happens a lot in musicals. I expect most of us know the song, 'How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?' from The Sound of Music.
How do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find the word that means Maria?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o'-the wisp! A clown!
Without Maria's infectious enthusiasm, her exuberance at the wonders of life, none of the story would happen.

Yet, there are times when exuberance can exclude. When someone is rushing along, excited, focused on something, they can stop considering how others are feeling about something, leaving them behind. Have you ever sat down with a group of friends, all who are into a new fandom, except you? They're all chattering away, excited, sharing anecdotes, ideas, crushes and you're sitting there, either unintentionally, or intentionally clueless and feeling pretty flat about it all. Now this is a trivial example, but it can be extrapolated onto other more serious situations: a discussion about battle tactics; a murder investigation, etc. And in these situations it can lead to the isolation of one, or a small group of characters, or even the exuberant character from all the others if they are so excited they don't notice everyone else's negative reactions.

So, positive, or negative, the energy of exuberance can pull a plot along, but it can also create interesting dynamics in its wake.

QUESTION: Do you ever get over excited? :)


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  1. Creative use of X there - nice one! ;-)

    In response to your question - oh YES. Very much so. About many things. In fact, the second I come across anything that I find cool/interesting I go into overexcited mode and yabber on about it to everyone around me. Part of it is that I love sharing things that I enjoy with others :) the rest has probably got something to do with the fact that I was a Duracell bunny in a past life ;)

  2. Hi Sophie - yes exuberance is fine, but chatterboxes need to come back to earth to include others ... great explanation by Mr Chatterbox - cheers Hilary

  3. I believe everyone can get over excited at times.

  4. I get exuberant over things I really enjoy. Books, of course, and Doctor Who. I imagine I can get a little annoying to other people.


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