Learning to talk about emotions is important for all of us. Whether it’s helping young people understand their emotions or knowing how to describe what our characters are feeling, talking about the range of human experience can be hugely challenging.
For writers, we might never have experienced anything close to what our characters are going through. For everyone, we might never have experienced what we are currently going through and therefore articulating our emotions and asking for help can be difficult.
This exercise focuses on imagery and location as a way to open up the door to discussing and describing emotions.
It could fit nicely into a writing workshop on wellbeing or a starting to write characters workshop.
Pathetic fallacy is a literary device in which human emotions are attributed to aspects of nature, such as the weather.
For centuries, pathetic fallacy has been an invaluable tool to writers. Particular popular in the Gothic genre, it is often still used today even in more subtle ways.
We can use pathetic fallacy in our own writing. For this activity we are going to write using pathetic fallacy about the same location but in three different ways.
- Ask students to write five emotions onto a piece of paper. Ask them to then cut up the paper and fold up each emotion.
- Put all of the emotions into a cup which can then be passed around the room. Each person will pick three emotions (checking that they don’t have any multiples and swapping them if they do).
- Each person will then be given an image of a location.
- Ask them to write about the location using one emotion. They will have ten minutes to do this.
- Now they are going to rewrite the same piece about the same place, using a different emotion. They will have ten minutes to do this.
- Finally, repeat with the third emotion with the same amount of time.
- As everyone to share. They can read their favourite piece or a paragraph from each to help with comparing how the emotions are resented by pathetic fallacy.
- Open up to a discussion of different emotions and why they are represented by certain types of weather, landscape and words.
After this exercise you could follow on with writing scenes with potential characters, brainstorming words to describe the emotions of different scenes or looking at how emotions are written in different well-executed examples.
I hope you find this activity helpful, let me know if you give it a go!