Illustration by Ana Hinojosa.

Illustration by Ana Hinojosa.

Hey, Rooks! Stephanie here. Today’s creative prompt is all about EMOTION. Sometimes you create something to capture what a person or a moment is like, but sometimes you want to express a feeling—maybe as yourself, or as a character. A lot of the characters I write are guarded (possibly because I’m a little guarded, too), so when I’m trying to get to the heart of who they are and what they are grappling with, I think about what emotion is driving them. Usually it’s pretty easy to figure out because it’s the theme of the book or story, but sometimes it’s a secret they’re keeping. Then I have to decide: Is it fear? Love? Fear of love? The need to be independent? Depression? Anxiety? Anger? Jealousy?

Then I play a little game: I visualize what the emotion would look like to my character—or to me, if the work is more personal—as a living, breathing creature. It could be human or animal; a monster, or a beautiful, entrancing being. I just let it take on some sort of physical form. I describe the creature, through my eyes or the character’s eyes, then I imagine how I or my character interacts with it. Do I/they fight it? Run from it? Give in to it? How does it treat me/them? How does it make me/them feel?

I once used this trick to get into the head of a character who was struggling with grief. Here’s a little snippet of the resulting scene:

I find the Minnesota pop-punk band that I’ve been listening to every night for the past two weeks and allow Grief to take me away. Grief is the cruel twin brother of that scythe-bearing skeleton cloaked in black rags whom we call Death. He stalks the loved ones of the person that Death stole, dressed in foggy white, so you can’t see him spinning his sticky, translucent webs. When he ensnares you, you’re pulled up and away. Not all the way to heaven—as if such a place exists—just into the cold, damp clouds where you can watch your life unfold, but you’re too numb and distant to feel it. Eventually he lets you down, but that web remains forever attached, linking you to his bony fingers. He’s an evil puppet master, who can jerk your strings at any time, and I used to hate him, but now I seek him out intentionally.

Give it a try! Write about an emotion-creature, and if visual art is more your thing, show the world what it looks like. If you want to share what you made, please email it (along with your first name, last initial, age, and city) to [email protected] with the subject line “Creative Prompt” by Monday, September 28 at 6 PM EST. Now, get into those feelings!

Your last creative prompt was to tell an inanimate object’s life story. Click through the following pages to read some of the secret histories you imagined for them.