Writing That Look of Love by Laura Haley-McNeil

Please help me welcome Lauri Haley-McNeil to my blog today. Laura is generously giving away a $10 ebook card to one lucky commentor that she will chose. So be sure and leave her a comment to be entered.

Prelude_and_Fugue_cover_2 As writers, we all know how important it is to capture the emotions of our characters. The question I always ask myself is: How does my character feel?
Writing on the computer is miraculous because when I have a question, I can easily look up the answer on the internet. So how did I find the answer to how my character(s) feel? YouTube.

There are a couple of television shows I like to watch. One is The Good Wife. Two characters from the show intrigue me: Cary and Kalinda. (Never mind that Kalinda is bi.)

I was searching YouTube for facial expressions and typed in Cary’s name. Bumcrackmosh182 and others have compiled excerpts of the scenes with Cary and Kalinda together with background music. Kalinda is cool toward Cary, but Cary is so over the top in love with her it drives me crazy. http://youtu.be/GSmogQQPPyw

Two other characters I like to view on YouTube are Mary and Matthew from Downton Abbey. Lolilie has compiled excerpts of their scenes. http://youtu.be/dGPAYL5MQT4

When I look at these videos, I’m analyzing everything I see: the eyes, the mouth, the tilt of the character’s chin, their posture. Are the characters standing close together? Is there distance emotionally and physically? Is there longing? Have the characters given up? Will they walk away from each other? Have they realized this love was never meant to be but they can still love from afar? As you can see, my questions never stop.

As viewers, we can interpret anything we want in what we view. As actors, it’s important to them that they portray the correct emotion and so they work hard to make sure that we the viewer feel what they project. As writers, we struggle with the precise word that will convey what we want the reader to feel.

If you’re looking for emotions besides love, YouTube has thousands of videos depicting a broad range of emotion from fear to hate to joy to depression.

Have you found others? I’d love to hear about them. I’ll have a drawing and send a $10 ebook gift card to one lucky commenter.

Olivia St. Claire accomplishes her dream to become a pianist, but didn’t count on falling in love with the man she can never have.


“Liam Wallace?” Panic burst through me as I forced confidence into my voice, lifted my chin, and looked at the towering figure filling the doorway. My clammy hands gripped a briefcase weighted with ancient piano books. It knocked against my knees as I stood on his terraced front porch in the fading sunlight of a cool, Denver afternoon.

Though his eyes never left mine, I knew he was making the observations everyone makes about me: small, timid, weak.

“Yes.” His lean physique bore an oxford shirt and soft wool trousers, but my gaze was immediately drawn to the mass of salt and pepper curls.

“I’m Olivia St. Claire. I had called about the piano lessons.”

“Of course.” He opened the door.

I stepped into the tiled foyer paneled in dark wood. Through the arched doorway, I caught a glimpse of cathedral windows overlooking a pristine lawn. Light drifting through leaded glass splashed across a Persian carpet.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” His voice carried a sense of authority, yet was gentle. He extended his hand and I started when his cuff lifted to reveal a thin scar that crossed his palm.

Cool strength closed around my fingers and unintelligible words tumbled from my mouth that would have said I was glad to meet him.

“You brought your music, I see.” His hand released mine, which reluctantly floated to the briefcase.

Unwanted sensations rushed through me, but I reminded myself a male piano teacher would have little interest in women.

Laura_Haley_McNeil_2Laura Haley-McNeil has studied piano, violin, organ and ballet. She has served on the boards of two community orchestras. She currently lives in Colorado with her husband.

9 thoughts on “Writing That Look of Love by Laura Haley-McNeil

  1. I love The Good Wife – probably the only series drama I must see – besides Grey. Okay, there’s two.

    I think I fall into a pattern and need to break out to bring more emotion into my character’s world. Great post.

  2. Watching Youtube clips of my favorite shows for visual clues on how to write emotion is such a brilliant idea! I am so using this in the future as I’m a visual person.

  3. Good introduction scene, buy why does she think a male piano teacher would have little interest in women?

    I love movies and pay attention to the actors’ expressions, motions, and body language. I try to write my characters so the reader can feel what the characters feel. Hard work.

    Thanks for writing on this subject.

  4. What a great idea for writing body language and facial expressions! I never thought of You Tube for that, but I’m definitely going to be using actors to inspire emotion-packed descriptions.

  5. Thanks for visiting and for all these great comments. If any of you find this technique helpful or know of other helpful techniques in writing about emotion, please share. I’d love to hear about them!

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