Saving A Real Life Emotion For Later

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It sounds a bit odd, but these days whenever I experience something emotional in real life, I immediately try to keep track of what my body did and what my thinking was…

so I can use it in a story.


Don’t look at me like that.


The other day, I got in my car to go to Riverview to watch a friend give a presentation at a library, and my phone GPS app said it would be a 40 minute drive.


And about 20 minutes into the drive as I was sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, it told me it was still 40 minute drive. And 20 minutes later (as I have only moved about 100 yards), it was still a 40 mill minute drive…

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Anyway, it was a nice night, so I had the windows open – but only on the passenger side, because when the car is moving it blows the air around nicely that way without getting too much.




A tow truck went flying by my left side in the emergency lane, going about 100 miles an hour. I didn’t see it.


And as it roared by, it totally caught me by surprise.


I flinched.


My head lowered, my shoulders raised, I moved away from the window…


My first emotional reaction was, of course, that I was scared.

That thing surprised me. It really went by close. Too close. It seemed like it was practically going to hit me.


My next reaction was anger. Stupid jerk, driving that fast, that close, blah, blah, blah…


And then I thought, Hmm. What all am I feeling?


First of all I flinched, as I said. I think I also snapped my teeth shut, and could’ve bitten my tongue, but luckily, well, I don’t know where my tongue was, but it wasn’t in the way of my teeth. My stomach jumped. That’s how I refer to it, but there was a huge wave of borderline adrenaline that shot through my system like lightning.


And after that, my heart was pounding.


I’m not a wimp. I’m not scared of trucks. Just trying to tell you what happened.


And then your body wants to do something with that adrenaline.

In this case it turned it to anger

and I furrowed my brow and scowled and said something like, “Stupid idiot!” Then I looked in the rearview mirror and the driver behind me was basically expressing the same facial expressions as I felt I was.


So I thought, jot this down – so I’d have it.


Other people will react differently. It’s good to know what your character’s personalities are, because when they get scared they’re going to do different things.


And of course it’s always handy at moments like this to make a note so you can dip into the paint bucket of emotion later. Or make a blog post about it.


What are some of the emotional experiences YOU have had in real life that you used in a story?

Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

USA Today bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 50+ titles published in more than 120 countries and over a dozen languages.

15 thoughts on “Saving A Real Life Emotion For Later

  1. My hubby epically underestimated how long it would take for him to complete a job and neglected to call me to tell me he’d be running late. When I say late, I mean multiple hours late. First I was annoyed. Then I was petrified. I started checking all the local news sites to see if there had been an accident. Then he walked in like it was no big deal. Angry doesn’t begin to cover it. I definitely pulled from this experience when writing An Uncertain Faith.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I used the experience of a long-term patient dying in ICU. He was rock-stable and just coded out of nowhere. There is usually some warning signs. Half of us were crying and begging him to come back–that it wasn’t time yet. But, it was. 😦

    This was a long time ago…maybe 28 years back. I was probably only 21 years old. I remember it like it was yesterday. His name was John.
    I did use that scene in Monsters.

    Liked by 1 person

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