Interpreting Emotion Through Words Alone

by bdhesse

“The struggle for a free intelligence has always been a struggle between the ironic and the literal mind.” 
-Christopher Hitchens

This quote is, to me, an example of how we must balance our thought processes when we read. You cannot look at a characters face to see their emotions. Instead we must rely on the authors words. How do we know when a character is being sarcastic? The author can simply say “she said sarcastically,” but that would get boring if it was said too often. So how else do we know? How do we know that when a character says something dryly they are not being literal? If we cannot determine a character’s meaning, then the words on the page become meaningless and the reader becomes lost. It takes a lot of intelligence to derive meaning from words alone.

So how do we as authors make sue that the reader truly understands what we are saying when all we have are words?