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What do writers need to know about emotions?

Woe! Hilarity! Terror! Fear!

What do we need to know about emotions in writing? As writers, I mean. I intend to write about emotions in the books I read, but that’s another post. For this one, I’m focusing on how writers handle emotions in their stories.

Now, I always figure I have things to learn. Through the process of writing, I learn what works and what doesn’t. Rereading my old stories helps me see where I was and what I’ve accomplished, as well as the things I still need to work on.

In my stories, I place a heavy emphasis on what happens. This is because I get very frustrated with books that drone on and on about the scenery, the weather, the inner monologue of the characters. In fact, sometimes I think I go too far in the other direction. If those stories I hate are waterlogged boats in the middle of the ocean, then my work, at times, is a mud hole in the desert.

Learning new things is my bag, man!

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Lisa Cron’s Wired For Story. It’s a cool look at why we humans love stories. Through an email touting a free webinar, I learned that she now has a new book out, Story Genius. I have to tell you, this is a fantastic book that’s all about emotions in stories and how emotions are the third rail of stories. In other words, without emotions, stories don’t work, in the same way electric trains don’t work without electricity and that third rail.

Freaking simple, right? And yet so many times stories miss the emotional mark. You ever read a story that left you cold? A story where you were hoping the characters would die because you didn’t give a shit about them at all? The story was probably disconnected from its third rail. You really should read Story Genius because the author explains this way better than I have.

I’m excited about using her method to deepen the emotion in my current novel and then use her method to create my next Devany novel from the ground up.

My plan for September.

In September, I will work on the emotional impact of my story and work to strengthen the inner emotional journey of my current WIP main protagonist.

My current WIP, aka the Novel That Will Never End is the subject of this work. It’s unrecognizable from the first draft I ever wrote. Well, the villain’s name remained the same and the overall concept is the same, but it has evolved from a simple story about a woman who gets tied up romantically (and unknowingly) with a demon, to a more complex story about abuse, trauma, and redemption … with a demon. 😀

My goal this month will be to make sure my story continually connects with the third rail. I’ll bring in examples from Lisa Cron’s book (because it’s so good) and advice, tips, and other goodness from other authors too. I’ll share what I learn, try out some things, show some before and afters, and hopefully improve my craft. When I’m done, I’ll do a recap and list some of the resources I used to work on the emotions in my writing.

Let’s clarify something, shall we?

I am basing this month off the idea in Lisa Cron’s novel Story Genius that stories work because of the inner journey of the characters. It’s their emotional journey that matters and that should drive the plot. But what about the small stuff? What about your character’s emotions? How do you write about those? I need help with that too, because I find that my characters have twisty stomachs and thudding hearts a lot and that’s lazy writing, isn’t it?

So, the writing part will be about two things: my characters’ inner emotional journeys and learning how to write emotion that doesn’t devolve into cliches. Okay? Okay. (I’m adding this in because I found a great website that talks about how to write emotions and it’s too good to ignore.)

That’s the plan! We’ll see how well it works, eh?


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