Friday, March 19, 2010

Emotions and why we love them. Lee Franklin

Have you ever read a passage in a book that tore at your heart and made you weep for the character? Or laughed out loud at amusing dialogue? Or, scared you so much that you checked under your bed while the lights were still on?

I know I have.

We all have books that have stayed with us long after we’ve read them. Some books we’ll always remember, a few with fondness others with trepidation. What is it that makes these books so special, so unique?

It’s because the author cleverly evokes emotions that we can all relate to. This creates believable characters and unforgettable moments.

Emotions are linked intrinsically to our five senses. Especially scents. Certain smells can evoke powerful recollections and unleash a flood of memories.

By weaving these senses into each scene, an author can give the reader a more definitive experience.

I don’t know about you, but I love the hot, greasy scent of onions cooking on a barbecue. Instantly I’m transported back to when I was a child. I can picture my dad turning sausages on a hot plate with a long handed fork while trestle tables groaned under a mountain of food.

Gingerbread reminds me of baking lessons with my nanna. She taught me how to make hot apple pies and Christmas pudding, how to melt real chocolate slowly into hot milk to create the most wonderful hot chocolate drinks.

Other smells are not so good. I’ve never smelt rotting flesh but I know if this smell pops up in a book...well something bad is about to happen.

Descriptions of people eating crisp, green apples with the juice running down their chins can make my mouth salivate. A character sucking on a bitter lemon makes my eyes crinkle and lips purse.

One book which has always stayed with me is Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer. I read it many years ago, but to this day I can picture the characters. Ellie, a pregnant, crazy widow advertises for a husband. Will, a man fresh from prison who doesn’t think anyone could ever love him. The story was rich with emotion and made me care about what happened to the characters. I ached for the misunderstandings between Will and Ellie; I cheered when wariness grew to friendship which grew to love and booed when it looked like evil would triumph.

I’d like to know which book has done that for you. Which emotion did it evoke and why?

Lee Franklin lives in Western Australia. When not working alongside hubby or  homeschooling their son, she can be found wandering around their property talking to her characters. And yes, sometimes they talk back. ;))


  1. Elswyth Thane did a series of books set in the US, starting with the American Revolution and going up to WW1. My favourites of them all was "Yankee Stranger" and "Ever After". The characters, Suzannah, Bracken, Eden, Cabot . . . were all real to me. I knew their longings and doubts, that's what the author did so well. Make the characters come alive. My heart ached for them on every page.

  2. I know it's just a kid's book, but it's fresh on my mind: Where the Red Fern Grows. I cry everytime. Pulls the emotions straight out of me.

    BTW: discovered your blog & love it.

  3. Hi Lee
    I've just read Stephen King's Lisey's Story. One of the 'characters' is a personification of pure evil. On the occasions (few thank goodness) when I've sensed what I could only describe as evil, this character is exactly what it felt like and it's terrifying.