Write Passion and Emotion into Your Story

Since I’ve received so many questions asking me how to get more passion and emotion into writing, in general, and “Mother Memoir,” in particular, I’m hoping the following thoughts will shed more light on the subject.

We each see people and actions in a special light – a light stemming uniquely from the very core of each of us.  As a collector of stories, I revel in this light; it is this reflection of ourselves that ignites the radiant glow of the prismatic colors making up the spectrum of our collective souls.

The best way to write passion and emotion into your stories is to put yourself in your characters’ shoes.  In each particular circumstance, take yourself to that place where the character you’re writing about is. With a little practice, you will learn to use your innate powers of imagination to feel what the other person is feeling, so that you will infuse your story with emotional intensity and enthusiastic passion. By envisioning the scenes, you will come up with ideas and feelings that may not have occurred to you before and, in so doing, create the mood of your story.

Just think, through actively engaging your imagination, you are getting to the heart of your character, what makes her tick, not just what’s on the surface, but the inner workings of her character.  Perhaps the most important aspect of writing a “Mother Memoir” is to remember that to convey on paper how you see your mother will bring her alive with all the passion and emotion you are feeling. People reading your story don’t know what’s in your mind and heart; they can only feel and realize what you bring to life about her through your written word – so the responsibility is yours alone.

You set the tone of your story by injecting passion and emotion as you see it, as you feel it. My book, Give the Gift of Story: TTS Essential Guide to Tap Memory and Write Memoir in Five Acts, is full of ideas and exercises to help you do just that, so you can allow these feelings to well up within you. We all have emotional memory, and it is best illuminated through the power of imagination, when we recall the emotions we felt at the time an incident occurred.

I suggest you go to a quiet place, close your eyes, and let your mind drift to the particular scene in your mind that you want to write about. We create mood by recreating the memory through all of our senses – sight, touch, smell, hearing, taste. Yes, you will taste the frosting on your 7th birthday cake, or smell the freshly cut grass in your backyard, or listen, once again, to the melody she often hummed; you can even see her face change before your eyes when you bring to life through your imagination the time she became furious or saddened by something or someone she perceived did her wrong.  If you would like more details on making your story come alive, go to the recent interview I had with the International Nonfiction Writers’ Association.

Now that you can begin to get in touch with the emotion and passion of your character, to set the scene, write your heart out. Get that raw emotion down on paper – make us laugh or make us cry, and portray, in writing, the passion you’ve conjured up like never before. This is how you begin your powerful story. Down the line, I will go into more depth about adding the finishing touches, but this is enough to work on for now.

Some types of questions to consider:

  • Is her hair blonde or strawberry-blonde?
  • Were her actions the result of anger or was she acting out of deep concern?
  • What does this scene look like from her point of view?
  • What does it feel like to be in her shoes?
  • Is the kitchen the room to place my story or is it on a sandy beach?
  • If I were looking at this scene for the first time, would it be different from the memory I’ve carried around with me for 10 years, maybe 50 years?

I’ll leave you with this thought: Is there something I’ve left out, overlooked, or buried that would make my story convey even greater emotion and passion?


Daughters & Sons Write Bio-vignettes as Mother Memoir


  1. Very good article. I keep a character catalog for all my books. while I don’t always have every specific feature of a character determined when I start writing, as I introduce more and more elements, say a quirky accent or a mole on the left shoulder or a propensity for cussing a certain word or whatever I go and record it in the catalog so I don’t have to go searching thru my ms trying to find (remember) what I had written about him or her.

    Also I prefer to find out bits and pieces about a character thru the interchange of characters as the story unfolds rather than all at once. I’m reading a book for review right now and every scene, every character gets a whole paragraph description of exactly what they are wearing, how their hair is fixed, etc. – it just STOPS the story for me. Much rather find out that John has blue eyes by having Mary say, “Where’d you get that gorgeous blue silk shirt, John? Really matches your eyes.”

  2. admin says:

    Hi Marvin,
    I so enjoyed your insights and character catalog guide, and I find it intriguing how you discover aspects about your character as you go along – good stuff for everyone to consider from the lips a respected author. I believe your way of doings things adds a rich dimension that will inspire other writers.
    While daughters and sons often think they won’t discover anything new about the character of their mothers before writing their bio-vignette, once they really get into putting it down on paper, they find they have, indeed, uncovered qualities new to them.
    Would you consider writing an article for my blog expanding a bit on what you wrote in this comment? If so, send it to me via email, lynn@telltalesouls.com , I’ve got your website URL & your mug shot, so we’d be all set.

  3. Why sure, Lynn – I’d be honored. Thanks for asking. Let me kick it around for a day or two and put something together for you.

  4. terena says:

    I love your work. I too am fascinated by memoir, which is why I primarily publish memoir. I love listing to a person tell their tale.

  5. admin says:

    Thank you, Terena. We’re on the same page; there’s nothing I like more – well, maybe I like inspiring and encouraging folks to write the bio-vigette a little more, because I know what it will mean to them to have done so.

  6. admin says:

    I hope your interest moves you to write your Mother Memoir, your bio-vignette. Thanks for stopping by.

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