Monday, April 20, 2015

SEVEN TOOLS FOR ADDING EMOTION TO YOUR WRITING


 Janet here. April is a crazy month for me so I updated my 2009 post on writing emotion. If you’re writing and want inspiration or insight into craft, don’t overlook the wealth of information in the Seekerville archives.

In order to sell or keep selling books, writers must make readers care about their characters and become emotionally invested in their lives. To create tension our characters need strong internal and external goals, strong believable motivations and strong internal, external conflict.  

No matter how well we do all this, our books will disappoint if the story doesn't produce strong emotion in our readers. As Vince said in his Seekerville post "What Mega-Selling Authors Know That You Could Use to Boost Sales"—“Fans read romances to satisfy emotional needs that when neglected become cravings.”

If you don't feel emotion, your readers won't.
To provide the emotional read readers crave, writers need to dig into our psyche and draw upon every scrap of emotion we've experienced in order to step into our characters' shoes. To dig deep and open our hearts on the page carries a cost. The reason writers are physically exhausted after writing emotional scenes.

Thankfully we can use craft tools to help produce emotion in readers and take our novels to the next level—engaging readers, satisfying that craving Vince spoke about, while taking the book to SOLD.

1. GIVE YOUR CHARACTERS PHYSICAL REACTIONS TO BUILD EMOTION IN THE READER:
Margie Lawson in her “Empowering Characters’ Emotions” class recommends giving characters strong physical reactions that show how characters feel, instead of using the easy way out and telling readers. To avoid overused or clichéd
reactions we don't use the first thing that pops into our minds.


From my debut novel, Courting Miss Adelaide, Love Inspired Historical:

“He tried to lift his foot, to climb the steps leading into the house of worship, but he couldn't move. Sweat beaded his forehead and the lump swelled in his throat until he felt he’d suffocate. He bent over and dragged oxygen into his lungs.

A cloud passed between him and the sun, covering him in shadow. A sudden chill streaked down his spine. He couldn't move. Couldn't pray, couldn't worship. 

Too much stood between him and God.”

In the excerpt above, I used physical reactions to show the character’s struggle with attending church. Hopefully this is an emotional scene for readers who know Charles’s churchgoing father was abusive and his childhood prayers for God’s help seemed to go unanswered, destroying his faith.


Make readers laugh
Note: I also varied sentence structure, repeated words, and put the last sentence by itself for emphasis. Margie Lawson teaches that the words we use and how we put those words on the page helps build emotion.

2. ADD SPECIFIC DETAILS TO BUILD EMOTION IN THE READER: Specific details—descriptions, senses, memories—bring characters alive. Don’t give readers some vague, colorless version of a person. Characters are shaped by their pasts, by their environment, by how they are or were treated. You can build any emotion by using details that reveal how the character sees his world.

From Courting Miss Adelaide:


“She’d been eight, when her mother, sick with influenza, sent Adelaide to stay with Winifred Cook’s family. Disorder reigned in the Cook household, but Winnie’s parents tucked the children into bed with a prayer and a kiss. What a revelation to discover not all children lived in a neat but silent house.


For weeks after returning home, Adelaide’s skin ached to be touched.
She’d tried to keep the warm feeling by stroking her arms and hugging herself, but it hadn't been the same.”

could have had Adelaide just think or say that her mother never touched or rarely talked to her. Instead I used details from her past to let readers see the emotional deprivation of her childhood.

3. USE INTROSPECTION TO TUG AT READERS’ EMOTIONS:
From Courting Miss Adelaide:

“Adelaide stepped inside, but didn't dust the counter, didn't wash the windowpane. Instead, she stood transfixed, watching Charles’s muscles as he pushed that broom like a madman.

A desirable, intelligent man cared enough about her to worry, to take a burden from her shoulders.
Like a husband would.

The thought took her breath away, zinging hope through her, hope for a husband, and hope for children. She shoved it down. She had no claim to Charles, no need of a man. She took care of herself. And if God willed, she could take care of a child, too.
But oh, for a moment, she wanted to believe in the fantasy.”

Make them cry
I list what Adelaide didn't do to show her emotional state. I italicized one thought, the stunning thought, for emphasis. Through her introspection, readers see the core issues for Adelaide. When writers show how the character feels with tight, strong lines, the reader understands and cares.

4. USE ACTIONS TO CONVEY EMOTION THAT TUGS AT READERS: Study movies or people watch to learn what actions convey which emotion. Check out Marilyn Kelly’s book, Eleven Senses, Who Knew? if you need help.

In this passage from Courting Miss Adelaide, Adelaide is talking to frightened seven-year-old Emma at the breakfast table:

““Tell me, honey, why?” Adelaide continued massaging Emma’s back, and waited, every muscle in her body as tense as the small ones under her fingers.

Emma’s mouth tightened. She picked up her spoon and began shoveling the oatmeal into her mouth, avoiding the question.”

I do a little telling here…avoiding the question…to show that Adelaide understands Emma is hiding something, adding to Adelaide’s alarm and motivating her next action in the story.

5. HEIGHTEN EMOTION THROUGH DIALOGUE: Use not only what the character says and how they say it, but also what the character doesn't say. Dialogue furthers the plot and develops characterization, but also is a great tool for an emotional read.

From Courting Miss Adelaide:

““I remember how the hair on my neck would rise, how my gut would knot.” Charles swallowed against the old familiar lump in his throat. “How I wanted to run, but knew running would only make it worse. It was the same for you, wasn’t it?”


Slowly, William nodded.


Charles lifted William’s chin with a palm. “I want you to know something else.”
The boy’s tear-filled eyes, the color of the sea on a cloudy day, met his.
“It wasn’t your doing. None of it was your fault, William. You were never the reason for what was said or done. Never.””

This scene is pivotal for Charles and William’s healing from the childhood abuse they experienced and was emotional to write. If you’re unaffected by your scenes, dig deeper and use dialogue or one of the other tools, or all of them, to stir you and your readers.

6. USE SETTING TO INCREASE EMOTION: Setting can mirror or contrast the character’s mood. Setting can awaken or trigger memories characters doesn't want to face. Setting can build emotion in the reader.

From Courting the Doctor’s Daughter, Love Inspired Historical, May 2009:

“Luke trudged off, striding along the bank, putting distance between him and Mary. A gentle breeze stirred in the scanty collection of leaves still clinging to the trees, fighting their fate. A fate no one could evade.

Along the water’s edge, a fat bullfrog croaked at his approach, then leapt below the surface with a splash, as if unable to abide Luke’s presence. Well, he could hardly abide it either.

Ahead, Doc and the boys gathered their gear. Luke hollered an excuse about getting home, not stopping to look at their catch, all too aware of the crestfallen faces watching him go.

Dusk had fallen, shrouding him in twilight. He walked on, alone, the burden of his mistakes pressing against his lungs until he could barely breathe.”

The way Luke sees his world reveals his sense of failure and self hatred. Decide how your character feels, then use setting, introspection and word choice to up emotion.

7. USE SYMBOLS TO HEIGHTEN EMOTION: Tangibles can stand for abstracts/intangibles like a mood or an idea, and take on special significance. Symbols are probably already in our stories. Emphasize them to add emotional depth.

From Courting the Doctor’s Daughter.

“Turning to go, his gaze swept the enormous breakfront filled with medicine. Something stopped him, made him open the glass door. Finding what he sought, Luke clutched his remedy, then walked to the table, dropped into a chair and set the bottle in front of him. Doc had said the contents of this bottle mattered. Had been part of God’s plan.


Joseph’s suffering had led him to find this medicine, to dedicate his life to healing. God had used this remedy to bring Mary, Doc, and the boys into his life. The liquid caught the light from above, glistened with a shimmer of gold. An unbroken bottle, unblemished, and shining like a new start. Or so he saw it now.”

The remedy/medicine is a symbol I used throughout the book. I used it to create conflict and represent failure early on, but as Luke grows and changes, his remedy stands for hope, a new beginning.

USE ALL THESE TOOLS (ACTIONS, DETAILS, DIALOGUE, SETTING, INTROSPECTION, SYMBOLS AND PHYSICAL REACTIONS) TO HEIGHTEN EMOTION:

Look for these tools in this excerpt with Charles and Emma, a frightened young orphan, from Courting Miss Adelaide:

“Tears spilled over her pale lower lashes, becoming visible now that they were wet and spiky. If he didn't do something, she’d start bawling. The prospect sent him behind his desk. He jerked open the top drawer and rummaged through it until he found what he sought—a bag of peppermints.
“When I was a youngster,” he began, “on my way home from school, I’d pass Mrs. Wagner’s house. She’d be rocking on her porch, wearing a gray tattered sweater, no matter how hot the day...”


Emma stopped crying, but looked far from cheerful.


“She’d call me up on the porch, ask if I was studying and behaving. Then, she’d reach into the pocket of her sweater and pull out a peppermint.”

Charles took a candy from the bag. Emma’s eyes widened. “She’d say, ‘You’re a smart boy, Charles. Work hard and one day you’ll make something of yourself.’ And, she’d drop the candy into my palm—like this.”


He opened Emma’s small hand and let a peppermint fall into her palm. When the corners of her mouth turned up in a smile, a peculiar feeling shot through him. As it had for him all those years ago, the candy once again worked wonders.


His entire adult life, he’d kept a stash of peppermints around, to remind him of Mrs. Wagner, the one person who had believed in him, who’d given him a desire to improve his lot. The candy still tasted as sweet as her words.”

Charles's dialogue and introspection reveal the significance of peppermints, for him the symbol of hope, and the reminder of the one person who believed in him. The details of this memory and Charles’s compassion for this frightened little girl touched me, the writer, and hopefully touches the reader.

When readers—and editors—are given an emotional read, they can’t toss the book aside. Look for passages in your WIP that reveal how the character feels. If you want to increase the emotion, try using one or all seven of these tools.

I brought apple fritters and fruit to jump start our day. Lunch is a trio of chicken, tuna and ham salad. Perhaps Patti Jo will bring peach pie for dessert.

Share a symbol from a story you’re read or written and what it represented for a chance to win With This Kiss contemporary and historical novella collections.


104 comments :

  1. I must be an early bird :)

    I'm a fan of Dee Henderson's novels, especially the O'Malley series. She uses physical descriptions/actions and dialogue to convey emotions well. I can't recall the exact lines, but in The Negotiator, she uses endearments and family nicknames (ex: brother to sister: "Ladybug"--"because you're both a lady and a bug/pest") interspersed among dialogue and actions to show how 7 people with no biological relation have formed their own unique family. (I recommend her work if anyone's looking for a new Christian fiction author to try.)

    I'd love to be added to the drawing if I may!

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  2. Forgot to add: Thanks for the great ideas on conveying emotion effectively!

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  3. Great post, Janet! LI books have come along way since Grace Livingston Hill penned hers. There is a comment that Karen Kingsbury uses in Ashley's story where a lady who is lost in dementia regularly asks her Has anyone told you lately that you have beautiful hair? I read that as an endearment from a woman reaching out to her nurse. Karen is another great author who uses emotions. Love Dee as well. I would love to win With This Kiss.

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  4. Janet - what s great post. You Seeker gals always deliver what I need when I need it. Now if I can just manage to apply it properly.

    I would love to win a copy of With This Kiss!

    When I think of writing with emotions Linda Goodnight always pops into my mind. I've learned so much from reading her books.

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  5. Good morning, Janet! Thanks for the fruit.

    What a great post on emotion. I've already made a copy. Thanks for sharing with us.

    I hope you all have a great day.

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  6. Yay, Sarah, first is fun! Dee's series sounds great! Thanks for the recommendation. Authors who tug at our emotions draw their readers to the next book and the next.

    Thanks for your interest in the Seeker With This Kiss collection!

    Janet

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  7. Sarah, You're so welcome. Hope the ideas help.

    Janet

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  8. Janet, I'm headed out the door to the day job and was only able to do a quick read through, but I had to say thank you for this much needed post.

    I sometimes still struggle with show/don't tell, and in most cases it's where I need to add emotion.

    I will be rereading this post many times, I'm sure.

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  9. Hi Marianne. Karen touches our hearts and takes on tough topics. Thanks for the example. It's fun to see that readers remember lines from books.

    Janet

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  10. Great post, Janet. Hope April calms down!

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  11. Good morning, Terri. I understand how we can read craft tips and still find it hard to apply them to our story. I say this a lot but writing isn't for sissies.

    Linda's as wonderful as her stories. When I try to study a favorite author's books I often get so caught up in the story that I forget to notice craft.

    Janet

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  12. Good morning, Jackie. The fruit in Seekerville is always perfectly ripe and delicious. :-)

    Hope the post helps! Have a great day.

    Janet

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  13. Rhonda, thanks for taking the time to stop in at Seekerville before heading to your day job.

    You nailed the problem with telling. When we tell, we're shortcutting an opportunity to up the emotion. We all do it. That's where revisions come in.

    Janet

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  14. Hi Liz. Thank you for stopping by. The sun will shine through the clouds. Eventually. :-)

    Janet

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  15. What a great (and much needed) post to wake up to. I need to review it again and again. I'm an emotional reader so if I'm not emotionally engaged in a story I likely won't finish it. I try to write that way, but not sure if it comes off so this is great ammunition. Oh -- and don't enter me in the draw 'cause I just won the comtemp With This Kiss. I'm about to dive in!

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  16. Janet, what a helpful post! It's so easy to concentrate on dialogue or action etc. and forget the importance of strong emotions. Without them our characters are cardboard.

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  17. Janet, so true. This is something I have to work at. And thank you for the examples. I think I'll make a checklist.
    Kathy B

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  18. Janet, how apt that your post about writing emotion should make me long for my Finnish grandfather. He couldn't speak much English, but he kept a bowl of peppermints on the living room shelf and in the evening, we'd sit together and he'd offer me one. Or two. Since he's passed, just seeing that candy dish on my mom's coffee table sends a deep ache through my heart.

    I hear my youngest coming down the hall and have this urge to share the memory with him. :)

    Thanks, Janet.

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  19. I'm here for the fritters and the EMOTION.

    I love character-driven, emotional stories. Now that might mean I'm an emotional train-wreck or (and I prefer this option!) I've got a heart so big it loves to emote!

    There is a reason "Saint Maybe" is one of my favorite Hallmark Hall-of-Fame productions. There's a reason I love Anne of Green Gables and Les Miserables... There is a reason I watch films based on the Bible and stories of overcoming poverty and pestilence... I love 'em. I love things that make me feel the emotion of the time. Thank you Janet for bringing this so wonderfully to light!

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  20. Good morning, Kav. Hope the ammunition fires up the emotion in your writing. I must remind myself to add the details. To milk an emotional scene. Slow down and let the reader savor the moment.

    Janet

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  21. Good morning, Cara. Well said. Cardboard Stanley isn't what we're aiming for.

    Janet

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  22. Hi Kathy B. I make checklists and they help. I call them cheat sheets. :-) Writing is fun. Good emotional writing takes effort, study. We all have to work at it.

    Janet

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  23. Good morning, Anita Mae. Thanks for sharing that sweet memory of your grandfather! Glad you're sharing that with your youngest. When we experience emotion triggered by an object or detail, we can see the importance of transferring those memories/ experiences into our characters' lives.

    Janet

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  24. Ruthy, emotional movies, books, the stories of the Bible feed our souls. The reason you're able to create wonderfully emotional stories.

    Janet

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  25. Great post, Janet! I'm glad you shared again.

    I used setting to convey emotion in The Guy Next Door. It was the place the hero and heroine spent a lot of time as friends while growing up. I used the location for the realization they had feelings for each other. And used it again at the end (but I won't give spoilers!). :)

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  26. Terri, I learn from Linda's books, too!

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  27. I remember Courting Miss Adelaide. Loved that story.

    Janet you make me want to go back and changed every one of my emotional scenes. Thanks a lot.

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  28. Ruthy, I went looking for Saint Maybe this morning. It's only available on VHS! I can't find a DVD. And it's not on Netflix. I'll keep looking though. :)

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  29. I rarely ever cry over my own books, except when I'm doing edits! I teared up a lot when I was editing The Golden Braid, my Rapunzel story. I am still in the middle of line edits, and I still feel like there are a couple of little problems with at least one subplot, but I still just love that story to bits. I love those characters too. Honestly, I think my readers are going to cry a lot when they read this one. There is one tear-jerker of a scene in particular, and I will be disappointed if a lot of reviewers and readers don't tell me they cried over it!

    The more emotion the better, for sure, but I'm going for happy emotion. A couple of people have told me they cried over The HUntress of Thornbeck Forest, especially the ending. But someone else said on Goodreads that the ending was so saccharine sweet it hurt her teeth. Not that I pay attention to reviews or anything. UGH! But I guess one person's happy cry is another person's dental crisis.

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  30. And I have to say, Janet, these are wonderful examples from your books! Wow! Way to pull on heart strings. Especially the one about the girl who ached for her mother's touch. Very powerful.

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  31. Missy, thanks for sharing how you used setting to convey emotion. Cool that you echoed a prior use of setting at the book's end.

    Janet

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  32. Great post Janet and great advice. You do such a wonderful job of building that emotion. I really need to pay attention. smile Have a great day.

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  33. Hi Connie. Not sure if that "thanks a lot" is sarcasm or the real deal. LOL I'm teasing but I do know the sense of dismay I've felt when I realize I need to up the emotion in my scenes. But, I'm always glad I made the effort. Emotion sells books. Emotion keeps readers.

    Janet

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  34. Years ago, a well-known author judged one of my mss in a contest and said she had the feeling I was holding back... that I needed more emotion on the page.

    That scared me. Put MY emotions on the page? My fears, my life experiences, air MY dirty laundry?

    It took me a long time to figure out that she didn't mean ME PERSONALLY, but to write and describe my characters' emotions, struggles, pain.

    I don't always hit the bull's eye with those emotional scenes, and sometimes one scene touches one reader more than another, but there are some scenes that I know, I know, I know will resonate because I feel it when I write them.

    It's a heady feeling to experience that while writing.

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  35. Hi Melanie. I'm not much of a crier when I write either, but I have been impacted. I think it depends what's going on in our lives and what memories the story triggers. I cried the most with a scene in The Bride Wore Spurs when Hannah's father dies. I'd lost my dad, though years before, but still that scene brought the sorrow all back. Those tears were cleansing. Too often I bottle up emotion. Books and movies are great releases. Happy tears are my favorite!

    I'm laughing at your happy cry/dental crisis comment. Proof that taste in books varies. Personally I love sweet endings and your fairy tale stories!

    Janet

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  36. Thanks for your sweet words, Melanie. Sweet is my favorite flavor. :-)

    Janet

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  37. Thanks Sandra! You're a wonderful encourager! Hope you're having a good day.

    Janet

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  38. Janet - I'm glad I'm not the only one who does that. I'll be reading along and become so invested in the story I forget I'm supposed to be studying.

    I meant to tell you, I have always loved the cover on Courting Miss Adelaide. One of my all time faborites.

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  39. Janet, I so appreciated this post. I'm always trying to improve in the area of writing emotion well. Your suggestions and examples are very helpful!

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  40. Good morning, Janet! I don't have a symbol to share, but I would still love to be entered in the drawing if I'm allowed. :-) You have so many great points and examples in this post, I'm going to print it out for future reference. As a reader, I feel it so strongly when emotion is showed physically. Just in your short example, I ached with the hero who struggled to enter the church!

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  41. Janet, I love your writing. Always have, always will, but today you've blown me away as I read and re-read your excepts from the stories I've loved and need to read again.

    Never stop writing. Okay?

    Promise?

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  42. Great post, Janet. I will be trying to follow all your points as I try to make something of my Speedbo manuscript.

    To Kill a Mockingbird comes to mind when thinking of symbols in books. The mockingbird symbol could apply to many characters, but Scout understands it at the end when the sheriff and Atticus tell her that nobody is going to accuse Boo Radley of killing Bob Ewell. She understands that it "would be like shooting a mockingbird."

    Please enter me in the drawing.

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  43. Pam, the feeling is heady and, imo, the reward for "bleeding" on the page.

    I have to remind myself to step into a character's shoes so I can feel what they would feel. We may not tell share our personal life, but isn't it cool that everything we've experienced enables us to write our characters' stories with emotion?

    Janet

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  44. Pam, the feeling is heady and, imo, the reward for "bleeding" on the page.

    I have to remind myself to step into a character's shoes so I can feel what they would feel. We may not tell share our personal life, but isn't it cool that everything we've experienced enables us to write our characters' stories with emotion?

    Janet

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  45. Terri, Courting Miss Adelaide's cover is my favorite too! Covers are a big reason why readers pick up a book. I feel blessed that cover wrapped my debut.

    Janet

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  46. Jeanne T, thanks! Writing and reviewing How To posts helps me remember what I know. It's funny how I can know something in my head but not always remember to get it on the page. I think I have a disconnect in my brain. LOL

    Janet

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  47. Hi Meghan,

    Are you still pinching yourself over The Call? I'm so excited for you!

    I also love physical reactions to build emotion, but have to remind myself not to show it the easy, sometimes clichéd way with a punch to the gut, or a lump in the throat. Not that I don't use those, but it's stronger when we milk it. Charles is frozen with anxiety between a desire to return to God and his anger at God. He still has a lot of growth to do before he can release the past and find his new beginning.

    Janet

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  48. Debby, now you've made me teary, dear friend. Thank you so much for your kind words about my writing. I promise another book is coming.

    Janet

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  49. Thank you, Sandy, for the great example of a symbol in a story. Isn't it exciting that we're going to get another story from Harper Lee?

    You're entered!

    Janet

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  50. This was a great post, Janet. I loved reading the examples, and especially your excerpts.

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  51. hi Janet
    thanks for this refresher post. now I have an itch to go pick up your debut book and read it again. for me, Ruthy's books really tug at my emotions. Mary C's books rev the ol' heartbeat and give me good laughs, Julie's usually make me swoon over the hero, and Debby's tend to have me wanting to flip the page faster to get to the resolution. All the Seeker books do a good job with emotional hooks, each in a unique way.
    This was so good for me to read. I'm at a better place to know how to implement your suggestions than I was the last time you posted this. (yay)

    I'd love to win a copy of With This Kiss.

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  52. Funniest quote of the day:

    But I guess one person's happy cry is another person's dental crisis.
    Melanie Dickerson


    LOL!!!!! I love it!! :) :)

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  53. Thanks Jill! Some like excerpts, some don't, but I find it easier to show than tell. :-)

    Janet

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  54. Hi Deb H. Isn't it fun to see that growth as a writer? Go you!

    Know the Seekers thank you for your kind words about their stories.

    Janet

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  55. Hi Janet:

    I don't think I'm ever more emotionally involved in something I am reading as when I am quoted in that material! I've been thinking all about emotions all morning. I just loved "Courting Miss Adelaide,. I read it twice (the second time to study the prose.) There is so much great writing in that story. What a wonderful debut novel. It's my favorite of all your books. Adelaide is my favorite heroine and the cover is my favorite romance cover. The hat even plays a role in the story.

    It is so nice to see this post selected from the archives to live again. Reading it makes me wonder what Adelaide is doing after all these years? I think that might make a great Christmas novella.

    Having become emotionally charged this morning reading your post, I began thinking of ways to leverage emotions in a synergistic way so that 1 + 1 = 3. I've come up with three ways to do this that might double or triple the impact of each of your seven examples:

    I call it the C C C Method.

    (That's because I'm an ad guy and not because the term has any particular merit.:))


    Compound: make the same matter worse with a series of related little bad things. I think this explains the last straw event that leads to road rage.

    Conflate: add a second and third unrelated problem which makes the total situation much more emotionally upsetting. This is when the character looks up to heaven and says, "Why me Lord?"

    Conflict: produce conflicting emotions which combine feelings of injustice, embarrassment, anger and humor in the POV character.

    Example: The heroine's quirk is always entering radio contests and never ever winning one. Her family and friends kid her all the time about this in the story.

    Setup:

    The heroine answers her cell phone, and because of a misunderstanding, she is told by the hero that he is calling off their wedding -- for her own good.

    She hears this and just throws the phone across the room shattering her grandmother's antique gold mirror which crashes to the floor with pieces flying everywhere.

    "Mom will kill me! That's more than seven years bad luck. That's 'mama bear' bad luck!"

    The phone starts ringing again as it bounces around among the mirror shards.

    The heroine runs across the room, bends down, snatches up the phone, and cuts her fingers on a piece of glass. Blood appears on her new white carpet. She screams into the phone, "I don't ever want to talk to you again!"

    "Really," a deep modulating voice says. "Does that mean you don't want the $500 cash prize you just won on KMOD?"

    "What? Oh, I'm sorry, it's just that I'm having a very bad day."

    "I must say you're the first prize winner who ever told me that."

    "It's not you. It's my idiot fiancé, the great John Henry Smith, who just called off our wedding tomorrow -- for my own good!"

    "Maybe John is listening. Do you have anything you want to say to him?"

    "We're on the air?"

    "Oh, yes, and I expect that we're going to be on the air all week. This will make a great promo call for our upcoming radio contests."

    ****

    What emotional state is the heroine in?

    Vince

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  56. Still a great post, Janet! Emotion is everything in a novel. The challenge is usually finding creative, non-cliched ways of showing emotion on the page. You gave us some good ideas!

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  57. Great post! I am having to go back through and really strengthen the emotions in my manuscript. I may have to figure out some sort of symbol, too. Part of me just wants to say it's good enough, but most of me realizes it ISN'T good enough! I have to flesh it out more! I'd love to win With this Kiss.

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  58. Hi Vince. I chose to rerun this post because I had about fifty comments, half mine. I figured lots of Villagers had never read it. Or so I hoped.

    Thanks for your kind words for my debut! LIH does a great job with covers but Courting Miss Adelaide's cover is my favorite, too!

    Thanks for the extra tips for adding emotion. I see the first two as raising the stakes for the poor character, which does add emotion, but I was looking at aspects of craft that can up the emotion. However I forgot that the plot ups emotion too.
    The tip that excites me most is your suggestion to give the character conflicting emotions. I said in a comment earlier that in the excerpt from CMA, Charles is conflicted about entering church. He wanted to return to God, but he was still mad at God. So he froze and wasn't able to enter into worship until he'd resolved issues from his past. Our characters are usually double minded about the love interest. Until the end, the cons exceed the pros. Hmm. Lots to think about.

    Your example is hilarious! Wow, talk about embarrassment, injustice, anger--not sure she'd see the humor until she and the hero resolved the misunderstanding.

    Janet

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  59. Janet, between you and Vince this a terrific editing guide!

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  60. And Courting Miss Adelaide is one of my favorite historical sites!!

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  61. Thanks Myra! This writing gig isn't easy.

    After reading Vince's comment, I realize I should've added conflict to the list of tools to up emotion. Maybe in another six years, I'll revamp this. LOL

    Janet

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  62. I think I've been lax about harassing Vince about when his Rewards Per a Page will release!! Oh, Vince!!!!!

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  63. Hi Becky, knowing when we're done revising is tricky. Perhaps when you reread your story, you'll have a gut reaction that tells you whether you've got enough emotion. One good thing to check is if you're telling. Telling isn't as emotional as showing.

    Janet

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  64. Not sites.... Books. Blame it on iphone!!

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  65. Thanks Tina! Vince's wisdom makes me want to run every post past him. LOL Why not have him wear yet another hat in Seekerville?

    Janet

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  66. Tina, I knew what you meant. Or maybe just hoped that's what you meant!

    Janet

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  67. Great post, Janet - - powerful suggestions that I sure need right now for my WIP.

    I love ALL of your books - you do a wonderful job of making the reader feel that emotion, not to mention I enjoy your style of writing! :)
    Hugs, Patti Jo

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  68. Hi Patti Jo. I'm grateful that you enjoy my books! Thank you!
    Wishing you all the best with your writing.

    Janet

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  69. What a wonderful post. I love Courting Miss Adelaide. Although my favorite Janet Dean book is Courting the Doctor's Daughter (sigh). Loved that story.

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  70. I agree, Janet. I am looking forward to reading Harper Lee's new book.

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  71. Emotion in a novel is a total deal-breaker for me. I love the examples you gave! It's what makes me invested in the characters and care about the story.

    Please enter me for the With This Kiss collections!

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  72. I was going through my story and found a spot that was flat. Sure enough, it needed more emotion! I may have my work cut out for me!

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  73. Dear Janet, Thank you for the post on emotion. This is one area I know I am trying desperately to improve with my writing. Even today when I was editing, I read a paragraph aloud and realized there was no emotional resonance and added an extra line to try to tie it all together in the hero's POV.

    Meghan, Congratulations on receiving the call.

    Don't enter me in the contemporary With This Kiss drawing. I'm in the middle of reading it, and I stayed up late last night to finish Sandra Leesmith's story about Melissa and Sid.

    Thanks.

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  74. Hi Dana,

    You are such an encourager. Thank you!

    Janet

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  75. Hi Sandy, will be hard for the new book to live up to Kill a Mockingbird! The bookstores are giving it loads of promo!

    Janet

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  76. Thanks Heidi! You're entered for a chance to win With This Kiss.

    Janet

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  77. Becky, writing is hard work but worth the trouble when your story makes you laugh and cry.

    Janet

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  78. Hi Tanya,

    You're wise to read passages aloud. That's when we hear that something is off.

    Sandra will be thrilled that she kept you up late. :-)

    Janet

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  79. Hi Janet,

    I read this earlier but couldn't comment. I wanted to be sure and stop back to tell you what wonderful examples you gave. They clearly show your amazing talent as a writer. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

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  80. Hi Janet! Great post!! Thanks for the wonderful examples.

    Cheers,
    Sue

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  81. p.s. Yikes!! Forgot to mention that I DID bring a peach pie today - - it's setting on the table, so if anyone wants a bedtime snack, just help yourself! ;)

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  82. Good evening, Mary! Thanks for your kind words. I'm so glad the examples worked for you!

    Janet

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  83. Hi Sue. Thanks! And thanks for taking the time to stop by Seekerville!

    Janet

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  84. Patti Jo! I've been hoping! Thanks! Bedtime, anytime, peach pie is a favorite. I almost asked if you'd forgotten the peach pie. But decided that was too rude to say to a sweet Georgia gal like you.

    Janet

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  85. Janet this was a timely post for me. The examples were as helpful as they were lovely to read. Such talent :-)

    How nice to re-visit "Courting the Doctor's Daughter." Thanks for that moving story and a very interesting hero.

    Nancy C

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  86. WHOA,JANET, talk about a workshop in a box -- this is AWESOME!!

    Do you own that book you suggested -- Eleven Senses, Who Knew? If so, do you use it often? It looks like something I might like to get.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  87. DEB H SAID: "Julie's usually make me swoon over the hero."

    AW, thanks, Deb -- I appreciate that sweet comment, my friend. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  88. These are beautiful examples of portraying emotion. What a fun way to learn! Thanks for sharing these with us!

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  89. Janet, I'm so glad you decided to repost this article. I've read Karen Kingsbury's series on the Baxter family (not the actual name of the series) and the Baxter family home was used frequently to draw emotion from the reader.

    Please enter my name in the drawing!

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  90. I'm a day late, Janet, but just had to say how much I enjoyed your post!

    I loved the examples from your own books. They were helpful and entertaining!:-)

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  91. Janet, thank you for this post. I took love books with lots of emotion and am working on improving that in my writing too. In my book, Till the Storm Passes By, storms are symbolic as well as physical, in my heroine's life, and the ocean plays are big part in her emotions. I will save this blog. What a great tool!

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  92. Hi Nancy,

    Thank you! When you create people, you never quit caring about them. I'm glad you liked Luke as much as I do.

    Janet

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  93. Hi Julie,

    I don't own it but when I first heard about it, not sure if a workshop or online--I got worksheets I refer to often. But when I checked her website, I'm not sure she's offering worksheets now.

    Janet

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  94. Hi Natalie, you're so welcome.! Thanks for your interest!

    Janet

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  95. Hi Edwina, love when authors use the setting for emotion, to the point it can even become a symbol.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Janet

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  96. Hi Mary H. Never too late to comment in Seekerville! Thanks for stopping by.

    Janet

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  97. Hi Anna Lee, just the words storms and sea conjures up all kinds of emotions for me. Nature is a powerful emotion trigger.

    Janet

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  98. Janet,
    Great examples.
    thanks,
    b

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  99. Emotion is something that just has to be there in a story for me. If it's not there the story will just fall flat for me. A great author that I just discovered in the past month that shows such emotion in her writing is Julie Cantrell. All I can say there is, WOW !
    Please enter me for the With This Kiss collections! Thank you
    Deanne in PA
    Cnnamongirl@aol.com

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  100. Hey Becke, thanks. And thank you for stopping by. Always great to see your smiling face in Seekerville.

    Janet

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  101. Hi Deanne, you're entered. Thanks for your interest.

    Janet

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  102. In The Memory Box, An Orange Rose was a symbol of his love.. Great Post!
    toss me into the drawing please ;)

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