Just kidding. We can talk about emotion. I mean, I'm a romance writer. Emotion is my raisin detra. :)
The problem was--
I posted a paragraph, last time, which had a first-person narrator. The purpose of the paragraph (which wasn't a good paragraph, I must say) was to provide single clauses that I wanted to show in combination and transition. Usually, when we provide examples, to keep from copying the writer's paragraph that inspired this thought, we make something up pointed to whatever we want to explore. In this case, the paragraph was meant to show how sentence combination and transition can make the passage more meaningful. Here 'tis, all halfway fixed up:
As Helena sailed into the ballroom, she looked around the crowd. She came to me and bestowed (notice we lose one of those many "she" words, good) an air kiss on me. I started to say something seductive and witty, but she (just? had already? was already moving?) moved on to another party-goer. When she kissed him the same way, I felt rejected and cheated. (Or I might say, Then she kissed him the same way, and I felt rejected and cheated. Not sure.)
However, it never did, even combined and transitioned, achieve meaningfulness, as Green Knight pointed out! It wasn't a very good paragraph, and no one need worry that I was planning on putting that in a book. :)
But every moment is a learnable moment, so let's get into what GK was talking about, that the paragraph did more telling than showing in regards to the narrator's emotion. GK:
I would, for instance, _show_ him starting a phrase, and the telling phrase I felt rejected and cheated. also needs to be replaced IMHO - what, *exactly* is his reaction.
So let's discuss this. This passage is in first-person narration, so the character is narrating himself what's going on. I think what's going on inside him can also be narrated, and that different people have different level of skill at interpreting and naming their own emotions. So I have no problem with him saying he felt resentful and cheated. (In fact, I think "feeling cheated" is an emotion even the least adept can recognize. Entire political movements have been founded on that one. :)
But let's say this is NOT someone who is good at naming his emotions, or recognizing what he's feeling maybe. Let's say you're going to write this event (Helena coming into the room, kissing him, moving on to someone else) from his first-person POV.
What would you do? Some thoughts-- please join in, and GK, maybe an example of what you'd do?
1. I'm writing this to mean that, hmm, he feels that he's special to Helena, and the equal-opportunity smooch there shows he's not. But... does HE interpret it that way? You could have a line that shows he's clueless or blithe instead of "resentful and cheated"-- "She was the nicest person, giving up her own pleasure at being with me to welcome the others." That is, if he doesn't get it, how would you show that this happened, but he didn't understand what it meant?
2. GK, were you suggesting some action or expression that the reader could interpret even if the character just narrates it? Well, how could we do that? How can we have the narrator narrate his own action or expression or something that tells the reader he's feeling resentful and cheated without actually saying the emotion words? "I punched my fist into my other hand and muttered to myself?" Well, you can do better. But it would be an outside representation of the emotion you want?
3. I'm writing him to be pretty skilled at naming his own feelings. But what if he's not? What if he feels something but doesn't (or doesn't want to) know what it is? How would you show that in his POV? Maybe something like, "My stomach lurched. Must be the oyster appetizer I just ate." How would you show that he feels something but misinterprets it? And how would you show that the feeling is in response to Helena's diss, or would you want to? Is proximity enough-- Helena does this, and immediately his stomach lurches? Is the sequence there enough to show that the two are related, even (especially) if he doesn't realize it?
4. What if he's naming this as resentment, but that's not what it is? What if deep down he realizes that she's going to leave him, or that she knows that he's the murderer, or something secret? And he doesn't want to know that, or he doesn't want to narrate that (first-person narrators are generally aware of their audience, and might "play" to them, or play them for a fool, I guess). So how can you show him identifying and naming emotion A (fear, dread) as emotion B (resentment)-- how will that differ from his straightforward naming of resentment? He says, "I felt resentful and cheated." What would he say if he were consciously or unconsciously covering up another emotion?
Examples, and you don't actually have to stick to Helena's sad-sack fella, as I know it doesn't have the actual meaningfulness it might have if we really wanted to explore POV and emotion. :)