How to Portray Emotions in Memoir

leslie-in-open-space-6-16How to portray emotions in memoir is a writer’s challenge, and the most difficult avenue for me is through the character’s inner sensations. That’s why I often pause to reflect and take note of my inner self, especially when I’m walking alone.

Today while taking my morning hike, I sat on a bench and gazed up at an exquisite oak tree, its branches entwined with designs of negative space with the clear blue sky behind it. I thought about forests and then running through a particular forest and the emotions associated with it.

I recalled a time when I was a young adult, and I had sauntered into a forest near my campsite. I found a welcoming tree stump beside a stream and sat back against the truck, book in my lap. The tightness in my shoulders relaxed and I could feel the furrow on my brow dissolve. My chest expanded with the intake of piney air, and I closed my eyes to enjoy the sun filtering onto my face.

A rustle of leaves in the lower growth awoke my senses. I looked up and saw what I thought was a wolf, tongue hanging out and eyeing me as “snack.” I snatched up my book and ran as if the demons of hell were chasing me. My calves tightened, and my temples thumped. Strained breathing. Gasps for air. Dry mouth. And then the exhilaration of the run took over. The speed, the wind in my hair, the feeling as if I could run forever.

Reflect on the inner sensations that fear creates in you when you write to this prompt.

Here’s a prompt for you: You are hurrying through a dark urban alley at night. You are alone when you notice a shadowy figure emerge from a doorway. He looks directly at you, takes a step in your direction, and reaches into his half-zipped leather jacket. What physical sensations do you feel and what do you do?

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