In the prologue, a traumatic event alters the course of the hero's and heroine's lives forever and sets the stage for the rest of the story. Great! The emotions taking place there are raw and primal. The conflict separating them seems insurmountable. Even better! The rest of the story should write itself.
The question is, how do we get these big emotions on the page in a way that has the most impact? How do we "show" the emotion without going into long descriptive passages about how the character is feeling?
Yes, there's the rub.
In the prologue, my hero's life (to that point) and even his love is being ripped away from him. I keep going back to two paragraphs in particular, at the point where hero realizes what's being done to him. And I ask myself, "What is he thinking here? What's he feeling?" I know I need to have something more than him just sitting there listening while the rug of his life is being jerked out from under him. But what? I know that too much description can actually rob the moment of its impact and immediacy. Anything, if it's overly described, turns into "telling." When that happens, the emotional connection with the reader is broken. At times like this, I remember something Mary Morrow taught me long ago -- "Less is more." But sometimes I worry that less is not enough. I want the reader to "get" the depth of emotion the character is experiencing, but how do I accomplish that without beating her overthe head with a lot of descriptives?
I guess this is where our writer's instincts come into play (and I'm beginning to think I may have been at the end of the line when they passed those out). Also, it doesn't hurt to have someone read the scene in question and point out where more emotion is needed. I remember getting pages back from a crit partner (helloooo, Jan) that had, "But what is she feeling here?" written all over them. Since then, I've been very conscious of "Where's the Emotion?" and I'm always afraid I haven't done enough. I think every writer's style is different when it comes to this and what works for one may not necessarily work for another.
How about you? Is your preference more for -- Hero stared at the man before him, stunned, disbelieving. His heart pounded faster. This couldn't be happening. Not now. He'd worked too hard, had too much on the line. etc. etc.
Or...do you go more for the short and to the point -- Hero knew he'd been had. (and wait until a break in the action to clue in Hero's physical reactions and internal dialogue)
In your opinion, which is the most effective and why?