Tag Archives: emotion

Heartbreak at 36–When Life Doesn’t Go the Way You Hoped

(Are these titles bringing in more readers?)

(Can you believe we are at #36?)

Emotion grounds our reader in such a way that the reader should be changed at the end of the book. It is our duty, as writers, to allow the reader to feel. We do that by putting emotion on the page.

Once, many years ago, I asked a few amazing writers, how they put emotion on the page so that their books rang true-so they felt like real life. Jerry Spinelli said this:

“You need to experience that emotion yourself. You don’t have to be experiencing it as you’re actually writing, but you need to be able to tap the keg where the memory of it resides and, so far as you are able, relive it.”

Martine Leavitt gave me this advice: “Create a powerful story, and you will create powerful emotion. Novice writers sometimes try to spoonfeed their readers the emotion they want them to feel, but language has the great knack of diminishing emotion. Put an emotion into words and you will undoubtedly drain it of power. All you must do is write a great story, a story full of love, honor, pity, pride, compassion and sacrifice (Faulkner’s six), and your reader will feel every emotion you want her to feel.”

David Gifaldi answered the question this way:

“For me, emotion comes only when I have become close enough to the character
to feel what he/she feels at every turn in the story.”
#36
List important events in your story.
What do you feel as you write these parts?
How do you want your reader to feel?
How does your character feel?
Are you getting the emotion across?
How?
How can you de better?
Do you have Faulkner’s six in your story?
Do you know how your character feels at every turn?
Are you tapping into your memory keg?
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Filed under CLW, Exercises, First Line, Life, Plot, Voice, writing process

15 Minute Monday

These past few days have been really good for me.

My agent, Steve Fraser, was here. He gave a terrific talk on Wednesday night to a crowd who sat on the floor and up the stairways and all around the room (INCLUDING sitting in chairs!). He spoke of joy. It was lovely and inspirational.

I’ve been thinking of my writing life. What I want to do with it. How I need to change things or not change them. What is important to me.

And there has been this other stuff.

And the other stuff has gotten into my very heart and stabbed at it with ice picks and as the stabbing has gotten worse, I’ve begun to build this wall around me and how I feel.

Can a writer do that?

Well, yes, they can. I have.

Should they?

I’ve got all these new, weightier things to think about. Personal things.

Most times I don’t want to think about them. Feel them. Hurt from them.

But

but the deal is, all this stuff, will, in the end, influence my writing.

So I have to be available emotionally. Not just for the good of my life and the people in my life, but otherwise, what good am I as a writer?

We write Truth. That means we have to be willing to feel all things icky and hard and gross and awful and happy and joyous and amazing because our readers need that Truth.

As I have peered sideways at things going on lately, even when I see I don’t like me very much as I gaze on these weightier things, I can see that this has been a good few days.

Sad. Hard.

Emotional.

Yes. Good.

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Filed under Agents, CLW, Family, Life

And Another Thing!

Still thinking about the writing next month?

Quick questions–are you writing a book NOW, too?

How do you do both?

Set aside time every day for your main WIP. BUT give yourself 15 minutes daily to prepare for next month.

Here’s a little something to work on:

There are a couple of ways to drive a story forward. One is with an intriguing plot. Another is with emotion–a feeling that flows through a novel.

So, I have to back up here. Once my sister stayed a summer with our wonderful grandmother and read romance after romance. My sister wrote me a letter. It went something like this: This afternoon I wandered through the darkened halls of Nanny’s home. The wood reflected my auburn-colored hair, like a fire in a fireplace. When I stepped into freedom, I saw the chiseled jaw of the mailman as he placed letters–love letters–in the mailbox. I ran across the field, grass whipping at my ankles, my gown slipping down my shoulders, revealing a bit of my ample breasts.

Okay–it wasn’t exactly that letter (she was like, 13), but sorta like that. There was a feeling in those Harlequins that Sam conveyed in her letter, making me laugh my guts out.

All our writing should have emotion.

In your 15 minutes today, play around with emotions you hope might be in your novel.

Do this for a few days this month. A quick emotion rush. Do heartbreak, sadness, fear, joy, loathing, love, excitement.

That first glimpse of the villain. That parting kiss from the murderer. That joke from a loved one.

Mix it up.

Have fun!

 

PS Our next get together will be the first week of December to talk about NaNo!

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Filed under Character, Chris, Life, Plot, writing process

Today’s Writing Exercise Starts Tomorrow

Over the years (lots and lots and LOTS of years), Chris Crowe has helped to bring many children and young adult  writers to Brigham Young University to read from their work.

Tomorrow is no exception (Friday, October 1, 2010). Gary Schmidt will read from his work in the Harold B. Lee library at noon. Schmidt’s won Newbery Honor twice, once for LIZZIE BRIGHT AND THE BUCKMINSTER BOY and the following year (I think) for WEDNESDAY WARS. You can get your books signed right after the reading, too. He is the author of more than thirty books.

When I was getting my degree from Vermont College, I had to give a 45-minute lecture. I spoke about writing with emotion and I used Schmidt’s novel LIZZIE BRIGHT to show examples of putting emotion on the page without telling the reader what the main character is feeling.

Have you read the novel? If not, do. Check out how Schmidt controls the writing so the reader understands exactly how Turner Buckminster feels in  frightening or hilarious or terribly sad situations.

Now, look over what you’ve written. What have you learned from Schmidt? Instead of “He was scared” how can you imitate the showdon’ttell writing you see in LIZZIE BRIGHT AND THE BUCKMINSTER BOY?

Getting to listen to published authors read is great fun, too. So if you have even a bit of a free moment tomorrow, come on down to Brigham Young University to hear Gary Schmidt.

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Kyra: On Writing

My blog today isn’t gonna be great, so if you’d like you can just skim over it now.
It’s on something I’ve been thinking about a lot, tho.
Writing. {holy shocker!!!!}
Well, not just writing, but how HARD it is.

I’ve finally started my first YA story {can’t say novel because it’s hardly even there} and I never realized how. freaking. hard. writing is.
How do people like my mother {the best writer in the world} and Ann Dee {the second best writer in the world} put emotion on the page like they do?
My story is supposed to have a lot of emotion {whose isn’t, tho?} and I have no idea how to even do it! I’ve taken the classes and read hundreds of books, and yet I’m still having a hard time!!!

After you figure out the emotion, how do you make something fake seem real?
Courtney Summers, Jandy Nelson, Laurie Halse Anderson…They all write stories about kid’s I’ve known, kids I’ve met.
HOW? How do you people do it? How do you think up a person and make it seem real. Because when I try, it’s an absolute joke!

Then you have to build a place, and write the storyline and believe it.
YOU, the writer, has to believe it or no one will.
When I write, all I see is a bunch of fake stuff coming from my thoughts just written out on a page. IT’S INSANE!

So yes, this is a short post. But I just want to say to all you writers out there…
I never knew how hard it was to write!
I now know it’s even harder to make money writing than, like, working at any other job! No wonder you’re all drama queens! You can’t afford to comfort yourselves with chocolate or sappy romance movies. I think I’m going to fit in with you people . . . . 🙂
Writing is hard! But if we didn’t have writers, I wouldn’t have books. If I didn’t have books, I wouldn’t be who I am today! Neither would a million other people.

Sorry this blog had a ton of I’s and sounded very self-interested…I’m just speaking my mind. 🙂

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Writing Challenge: Emotions

Write 250 words or less of your protagonist in an emotional situation. Without naming the emotion, let us see what’s going on with her/him. Watch for cliches. Don’t forget set up. Let us see the whole scene, but show, don’t tell.

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