Friday, January 19, 2018

A Short Introduction & Writing Emotion

Hi everyone, Winnie Griggs here. First let me say how absolutely thrilled I am to be joining the Seekerville line-up! This has always been one of my favorite blogs to visit so I was incredibly honored to receive an invitation come on board as an official Seeker.

I gave a lot of thought into what I should write about for this, my first post, and I suppose I should start by telling you a little about myself. I’ll keep this part brief.

I grew up in SE Louisiana, right across the river from New Orleans in a decidedly rural area.  I’m the oldest of five siblings, though we are spread out in age – my youngest sister is 20 years younger than me (Imagine getting the news that your parents are expecting when you’re in college!).

I met the man who would become my husband while I was in college and we celebrated our 42nd anniversary just before Thanksgiving. We have four children, the youngest two are twins. I always thought three was the ideal number but I like to say that the Good Lord knew better and gave me two that last time around and they have been a joy to us ever since.

Professionally, I worked for an Electric Utility Company for 35 years as an IT professional and a Project Manager and I am now very happily retired. 

On the writing front, I made my first sale to Dorchester Publishing’s Leisure Books line in 2000 and published four additional titles with them before moving on to Love Inspired where I sold sixteen titles. I've also made several sales to small presses in the interim. And, with the closing of the Love Inspired Historical line, I’m facing yet another change in my career. I can’t see what the future holds for me and my writing at this point, but I have faith that it will all work out as it should.


So that’s me in a nutshell. On to the more important part of this post.


I’m developing a new workshop I’ve titled Delivering Emotion. Below is a short excerpt from my WIP that I’d like to get some feedback on. So here goes.

When depicting character emotion, the cardinal rule is - Don’t tell me what your character is feeling, SHOW ME.  Here are a few ways to do that:


Use the five senses
The senses, and how they influence and trigger thoughts, can be a powerful emotion indicator. Look at the two passages below. 


As he tended to her cut finger, she felt a deeper connection between them.
    vs.
Reggie stared down at her hand in his.  A tiny rivulet of blood seeped out from the shallow slice, curling around her finger and onto his, like a narrow ribbon binding them together. Amazing that such large, work-callused hands could feel so warm and gentle without losing their sense of strength… she stared down at his bent head, so close she could smell the scent of soap and cigar smoke and night air.  So close her breath stirred his hair.  So close she could press her lips to his temple without moving much at all.


Use Internalization
What a character is thinking communicates emotion to the reader even if the other characters in the story don't see it.

His words made her happy
    vs.


She could hardly believe it—he’d supported her over Ava. That had never happened before. What a wonderful way to begin their vacation.




Use body language

Body language is another powerful indicator of a character's emotional state. It's a tool that can convey a whole lot, both to the reader and to the other story characters without one bit of dialogue being exchanged.




He was angry
   vs.
He slammed his mug down, pushed away from the counter and stormed out of the room.

Use Subconscious ‘tells’

This is one of my favorite ways to convey emotion - using little tics and unconscious habits to betray what a character is feeling. But be careful, a little goes a long way when using this method.

Alice could tell he was lying.
  vs.
Uh-oh, he was twisting that signet ring on his finger. He always did that when he was lying.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
So that's as far as I've gotten.  The examples obviously need a little more work, but hopefully they convey what I'm going for. The other topics I intend to cover in the workshop are:


Showing emotional growth

* Discuss key steps along the character’s emotional arc that should be highlighted for greatest impact


Layering it in

* How to weave it in without hitting the reader over the head


Knowing when to punch it home

* Discuss a structure for those big emotional pay off moments


Being aware of the emotions you want to elicit in your reader

* These may or may not be the same emotions you are putting your character through.

* Viewing it with a reader’s eye

                                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Now it's your turn. What do you think? Am I hitting the right points? Is there some aspect of this topic I'm missing?

Anyone leaving feedback for me today will be entered into a drawing for their choice of any book from my backlist.






82 comments:

  1. Hi Winnie! Wow, you've definitely got it right. I appreciate the examples. Wonderful to really drive the point home. You showed instead of telling me. lol

    I always enjoy a good post on the craft of writing. Thanks for the chance to win a title from your backlist.

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  2. Hi Terri - another night owl I see :)
    And you're quite welcome. Glad you enjoyed the post.

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  3. WINNIE!!!! WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE!!!!!

    Isn't this like the most fun ever????? I'm gushing and I don't care!

    It is so nice to have you aboard!!! Thank you for saying yes to the invitation... I'm still grinning!

    Okay, back to the writing stuff... Winnie, this is a great show-don't-tell post and I love how you've worked it so that you're not posting acres of your story, but snippets... I think strong but concise examples work so much better when we're teaching. We might love the sound of our own words, but for the aspiring author or reader, the snippets rock!

    And I really respect the other ideas you have for continuing the Deeper Emotion lessons... this is clutch, and when you talked about "how the reader feels", that's the core to me...

    What is the reader feeling when they get to this scene? Or that scene? Do they want to slap the hero? Or have coffee with his mom? Do they want to visit the town... or even move there? Do they cheer for the heroine or wish she'd grow some guts and courage along the way?

    This is rock-solid wonderful stuff!!!! And what every author aims for to touch readers' hearts!

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    1. Hi Ruthy - thanks for the great welcome! I felt like I'd really made it when I got the invite to join you fun folks here! And thanks to for the positive reception of my notes - emotion is such an important part of a romance, or any story really.

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  4. Welcome Winnie! I loved this post as i have always been a person who could learn more by seeing examples then by just being told to "show don't tell".

    Thank you for the chance to win one of your back copy books.

    Blessings, Cindy W.

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    1. Hi Cindy! Absolutely - examples always help to drive home a point.

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  5. Welcome Winnie! I'm glad you are part of the new Seekers. I've enjoyed reading your Love Inspired historical novels and will miss that line.

    It looks like you've got a great start to your workshop idea. Your examples made this difficult concept very clear. Thank you.

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    1. Hi Bettie - glad you enjoyed the post. And thanks sooooooo much for those kind words about my books - you really made my morning!!

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  6. Good morning, Winnie, and welcome back to Seekerville -- this time as an 'official' blogger! :)

    I love examples that illustrate concepts, so thank you--your workshop attendees will appreciate that, too! Readers of fiction read it for a number of reasons--and to FEEL the emotion right along with the POV character(s) is an important one of them so if we can get that right in our stories, we're well on our way.

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    1. Thanks for the welcome Glynna - I'm beyond happy to be here! And not only is it important for readers to feel what the characters are feeling, but it is also important for them to feel what the author intends for them to feel, which may be quite different at times from what the characters are experiencing.

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  7. Good Morning, Winnie and Seekerville! Thank you for the great post. I most enjoy those books that pull on my heart strings.

    Please enter me in the drawing.

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    1. Hi Caryl, thanks for dropping in and you're in!

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  8. Great post, Winnie. I'm always trying to become better at conveying emotion without stating what it is. :)

    One thing I have been taught is to use the setting to convey emotion as well. The obvious thing might be with the weather or what the sky is doing. But maybe the feel of a room as a character walks into it. Maybe something that's different from the norm (i.e. an unlit fireplace that is usually warm and crackling)....Etc

    I love your suggestions. Thanks for sharing them!

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    1. Ooooh, Jeannie, thanks for the reminder! Environment is absolutely another tool for adding touches to emotion and atmosphere in stories. Going to add that to my notes right now!!

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    2. Oh, this is a good point... I've used the passage from cold, leafless fall days to Christmas as a segue from loss to joy... and the passage of long, cold winters to the re-birth of spring! And that's a crowd-pleaser. Jeanne, great thought!

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  9. Winnie, what a great idea for a workshop, and so badly needed. This is something I hear about, more often than I'd like to, in contest feedback and win-a-critique endeavors. I'm a New Englander so maybe that has something to do with it. Something I'm working on, anyway. When my husband and I sued to fight, it would take us forever. We'd sit and glower at each other for a half hour, someone would say something, and then we'd glower for another half hour. This is something I have to constantly stay on point with.
    Looking forward to more of your posts!
    Kathy Bailey

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    1. Hi Kathy, and thanks! Sounds like you and your husband had the body language part of this down pat :)

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  10. Hi, Winnie! I enjoyed reading this article. This topic is what I call "tell and show," and is something many people in my writing network told me about when I first started writing. I learned that I couldn't just express, "Jenna was mad." I had to either change the words or show how she is mad and why.
    As for my feedback on your excerpts, with the limited time I have now, I wouldn't be able to be specific. But I loved reading them. When I get a chance over the next few days, I will read them again, maybe before I dive into my own writing for the morning. In so doing, I may want to change how I express Mandy's or Adam's emotions in my first contemporary romance novel, Twofold Love Comeback.

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    1. Hi Faye! So glad you found the notes helpful. And absolutely, if you come back and look at this and think of a way to improve on it, I would love to hear.

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  11. Good morning, Winnie! Good morning Seekerville! I've got a fresh, hot plate of sausage biscuits, so help yourselves.

    Winnie, you've offered some wonderful examples on writing emotion. When I first started on my writing journey, emotion was tough for me to grasp. What did they mean, "show, don't tell?" But your examples are spot on. Showing draws the reader in while telling has them setting the book on the nightstand and turning out the light.

    Can't wait to attend this workshop. And welcome to Seekerville. It's always good to see a familiar face.

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    1. Sausage biscuits! One of my fave breakfast foods (helping myself). Thanks for the welcome. Glad you liked the post - hopefully I'll get these speaker notes wrapped up soon...

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  12. Hi Winnie, so glad you joined us on the "Journey!" Great post, as always. I want to attend this workshop...have you submitted it to RWA for the National Conference?

    Loved all your examples. That Show Don't Tell is so important. I'm revising a WIP and will be using your points to see if I can enhance my story a bit. Perfect timing!

    You're a gifted teacher! Keep it up. We all need your expertise!

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    1. Thanks for the welcome Debby! And for the kind words on my workshop notes as well. No, I only came up with this recently so I didn't submit it for nationals this year, but I hope to next year.

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    2. Winnie, they'd be silly not to jump on it for 2019... Tell 'em I said so. :)

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    3. Well then, I'll consider it a done deal! :)

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  13. Hi, Winnie! So good to get to know you a little better and happy you're part of Seekerville!
    Thanks for the reminder to show emotion in our stories. It's one of THE most important parts of our story, because readers want to FEEL something. They want to feel what the characters are feeling, and showing is way better at making that happen. Looking forward to your future posts!

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    1. Hi Melanie. I'm happy too :)
      and I agree on the importance of emotion and am always looking for ways to punch it up. That's one of the reasons I decided to do this workshop - to teach myself!

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  14. Hi Winnie, it's so great to have you at Seekerville! I enjoyed getting to know you better and look forward to more posts.

    Thanks for 'showing' emotion.

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    1. Hi Jackie, thanks for the welcome and thanks for stopping by!

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  15. Thank you for such a helpful post, Winnie! Loved the examples. Showing and not telling is one of my biggest battles - but I'm getting there :-)

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    1. Hi Laura. You're definitely not alone - I think it is a battle most authors wage. I know for me, this something I usually do in subsequent passes after I get the first draft down.

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  16. Good morning Winnie!

    It seems I've met you before but I'm not sure. Did you speak at DARA (Dallas area RWA) years ago?

    I love your examples, and like Ruthy said, the snippets work best for me.
    Showing emotion in my writing is sooo hard. Does not come natural. I can show anger, but like the example you used in Use the Five Senses, I struggle w/the nice touchy-feely emotions. Good grief. Blood is seeping from her sliced finger and you still dug deep to her attraction. Great example.

    Thanks for the post!

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    1. Hi Connie. Yes, I did present a workshop at DARA but it was MANY years ago - good memory! And glad you like the examples - the one you mentioned is one I like the best myself.

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  17. Welcome, Winnie! I think you've got a great start here and I agree with the others that examples are most definitely the best way to teach these concepts. I'm by no means an expert, so I'll refrain from critiquing and just learn!

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    1. Thanks Glynis, I appreciate the kind words.

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  18. Welcome, Winnie! So happy you're joining the Seekers and I look forward to many more of your posts. :)
    I met you at RWA (in Atlanta 2013) and had my picture made with you (yes, Fan Girl moment, LOL!). I'm thinking it was after you gave a workshop with Lenora and several other authors.
    THANK YOU for this post---your examples are very helpful and showing emotion is something I really want to improve on in my writing. This post goes into my Keeper File!
    Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

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    1. Hi Patti Jo, I'm happy to be here too :)
      I remember taking that picture with you!Made me feel like a rock star :) And I'm so glad you found something of value in the post.

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  19. EXCELLENT POST, WINNIE! And who would have believed last year that I would be on this side of the post and you on the other??

    Life changes so quickly, and if God is involved, it's always good. :)

    As you may or may not know from my books, I LOVE emotion and, in fact, it saves my marriage because instead of putting all that emotional drama into my marriage, I put it into my books.

    You hit a lot of great points as far as I'm concerned, and another I rely heavily on are strong verbs.

    God bless you in your endeavor for this book on emotion, my friend, and may His anointing be all over it!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. Hi Julie! I KNOW! What a difference a year makes.
      And yes, I consider you one of the queens of getting emotion on the page. And LOL about saving your marriage, but I know what you mean.
      Strong verbs - yes! I need to add this.

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  20. So nice to meet you, Winnie! Writing with emotion is one of my favorite things, but I haven't mastered it yet and am always in search of new ideas and strategies, so your workshop sounds wonderful!

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    1. Hi Karen. Thanks for the welcome and for those kind words about the workshop notes. Searching for ways to improve your writing is always a good thing, and a sign of someone who is serious about her craft, so good job!

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  21. Wow! Your examples are wonderful and yes, feeling is way better than just reading or hearing! I'm sure that your workshop will be very well received. Congratulations on being invited to join Seekerville. I look forward to reading many more posts and I pray that God soon reveals to you His next installment in His Plan that is your life!
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Hi Connie. Thanks for all those positive thoughts!

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  22. Winnie, will your workshop be online or in person? Writing with emotion is something I definitely need to improve in my own writing. My favorite of your examples was the subconscious "tell."

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  23. Great post, Winnie! Loved your introduction. It's always fun getting to know the Seekers better. Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips. Your examples are perfect and I'm looking forward to learning more from your experiences!

    Wishing you a tea-lightful weekend!

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    1. Thanks Kathryn! And from your sign off it seems as if you already know a little about me and my tea addiction :)

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  24. Hi, Winnie!

    I love this post! Those of us who tend to internalize emotions can have a hard time expressing them on the page. But if the hero can only frown to show his displeasure/anger/puzzlement/sadness, then we really don't know too much about him! (Spoken by someone who has to interpret her heroe's frowns in every editing session!)

    I loved your examples, and the snippets are perfect.

    I hope you'll be giving this workshop at ACFW! I'd love to take it. :-)

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    1. Well, dagnabbit, I must take this bit of advice to heart... because I think I need a lesson in this.

      Thank you, Jan!

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    2. Hello Jan. I know exactly what you mean about internalizing emotions - I'm very guilty of this as well and you're right, it does make it that much harder to put it on the page.

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  25. Hi Winnie! It's so nice to get to know you better! Your workshop sounds fabulous! Exactly the kinds of things that make a story un-put-downable ;)

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    1. Thanks Beth Erin, and I'm loving getting to you and my other fellow 'new kids on the block' as well! Thanks for the kind words about the workshop. Unfortunately the other part of it will be a bit trickier to develop than this opening part was

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  26. Welcome, Winnie! Great examples. I found them very helpful, thank you. May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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    1. Hi Phyllis, thanks for the welcome! And so glad you found some value in the post.

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  27. Winnie, this is fabulous. As an editor, there are so many times I've read stories written like the first of each example, and it's just so...flat. It's not even something I can edit because it's throughout an entire manuscript.

    I think your workshop idea is brilliant!

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    1. Oh wow,Beth, getting this kind of feedback from an editor is really affirming. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and leave a comment.

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    2. I'm so glad. This is such a great topic for a workshop!

      Also, I brought along a nutty blend of coffee that is my current fave! :)

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    3. I'm more of a tea person than coffee person but that does sound yummy!

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  28. Hi Winnie! Loved those examples and I'd run (not walk) to sign up for that class!

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    1. Hi LeAnne! And LOL - I'll post if and when this workshop gets picked up

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  29. Love the way you show the characters’ emotions in such descriptive and beautiful language!

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  30. Hi Winnie. Those examples sound great to me, as do the other topics you mentioned. That's probably a course we all need a refresher on. My biggest issue with writing is catching myself using the word feel when talking about emotions instead of describing it and showing it. Definitely something I am working on being better about.

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    1. Hi Amy! I struggle with that as well, which is one reason I'm developing this workshop. I'm hoping that by immersing myself in the necessary research I'll absorb some of it for my own writing.

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  31. Welcome, Winnie. Glad to have you as an official Seeker. Thanks for the great post. Showing emotion like this is something I am constantly working on in my writing.

    Please enter me in the drawing.

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    1. Thanks for the welcome Sandy - and I'm still pinching myself over being an 'official Seeker'!

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  32. I think my toes are permanently curled from that first example! It's amazing how well crafted words can catapult a reader into the emotional thick of things. Loved the contrast in your examples - very helpful illustrations. I am definitely an emotional reader. I like to feel my way through a story. Just finished A Plain Leaving by Leslie Gould and my emotions are all over the place! I am not sure how the author did it, but she had me feeling even more through the actions of the secondary characters -- like how they behaved towards the heroine in particular. Phew, I feel my blood pressure rising all over again. I think your workshop sounds fantastic.

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    1. Hi Kav! And LOL on the curled toes :)
      And now you've got me wanting to read A Plain Leaving - I'll have to hop over to Amazon and check it out

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  33. Great tips and specific examples. As a newbie, your blog gives me better insight about showing rather than telling. Tyvm

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    1. Hi Napudin. So glad you found the post helpful!

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  34. It's so nice to learn more about you, Winnie. I love your name. I was a huge Wonder Years fan! Thank you for these terrific examples...that's the best way thing stick in my brain. :) Welcome to Seekerville!

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    1. Hi Jill. I happen to like the name Winnie too :). I was named for my grandmother and there aren't too many of us around, which I also like. And you're quite welcome for the examples - glad they spoke to you.

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  35. Hi Winnie! It is so great having you here! I love that you really stepped beyond words into feeling! I'm sorry for the exclamation points, but I really do appreciate the examples. I think you are going to have a great workshop. :)

    I appreciate all the work you've shown here. Thank you!

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    1. Hi Kelly. Thanks for the kind words and no apologies necessary - I love your enthusiasm!

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  36. Hi, Winnie! So glad you are blogging here at Seekerville! :) I love this post. Such a timely reminder for me as I prepare a new proposal.

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    1. Hi Erica. Thanks for stopping by. And you're right, this is a reminder we all need from time to time.

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  37. Hi Winnie,
    Lots of great things to keep in mind, things I often forget, LOL. So glad to have you onboard in Seekerville!

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    1. Hi Audra! Thanks for the welcome and so glad you liked the post.

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  38. Welcome Winnie! YAY!

    This new chapter to Seekerville's journey is much fun!
    Congratulations!

    You're very much on the right track with your illustrations.
    It seems like such a simple concept but having the senses SHOWN on the page is what breathes life into the story.

    Excellent start!

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  39. Welcome Winnie! I like your examples. It really helps to give the before and after. The after shows how much more rich and how it draws you in to the story much better. I think it’s a great idea.

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    1. Hi Paula. Thanks for the welcome and I'm so glad you liked the post.

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  40. Showing emotion in our writing is so important. Thanks for the reminder!

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