The easy answer is probably that I'd rather write about something blowing up. Emotions are hard.
So it's time for me to analyse exactly what is needed to show emotion in writing and see if I can do it logically. These are things I know I'm supposed to do, but don't always remember to do them because I get absorbed with what's happening in the story.
- Identify the emotions. This one I actually like. It means I can make a list. I like lists. I can tick each item off when it's done and feel like I've accomplished something. The idea that I can do the same with emotions in stories makes me feel like it's achievable, not some nebulous thing that just happens if you know what you're doing.
- Be clear on the character's motivations. Motivation gives a really good reason to be feeling emotion. It also gives some ideas on what sorts of emotions the character will feel and how they will be displayed at different times. I always do Goal, Motivation and Conflict (internal and external) for each major character, but I often forget to show physical and emotional reaction to each of these things when they change or are challenged.
- Show through characters' actions. I always think I do this but all I'm really doing is showing their actions. Making sure readers see the emotions in those actions is more complicated than that. So how does a 3000 year old dragon who's seen and done lots of things, FEEL about the moons going red? In my head, he's had so much time to react to everything that happens in the world, it's almost passe. The red light is different, of course, so we'll focus on that. My standard go-to elements are heart rate, sweat and trembling, but I get sick of talking about only those three things to show when someone is emotionally impacted. This is about the time I start to think 'get over it and blow something up'.
- Write the character so the reader identifies with them. This means tapping into feelings and reactions others can relate to. I find this difficult because my first reaction to drama and melodrama is 'build a bridge and get over it'. You can't achieve much if you spend all your time angsting over things. I have to sit down and work out exactly what each small reaction might mean in terms of feelings, then amp it up. Every time I do what I consider overwriting the emotion, my critique group tells me I've finally got it right. Weird.
Perhaps, when I'm plotting, I should also identify where I need to layer in the emotional depth. I could make another list! :)