I mentioned in last week’s post that I’m having trouble connecting with the book I’m reading. Like I said, I’m determined to push through it though. This week I read a whole five pages. Not even a whole chapter. See what I mean? Not connecting with it!
This got me thinking. What exactly makes a reader feel connected to a story? Is it the character? Is it the plot? Or is it the emotion? Maybe it’s the emotion attached to the characters and the plot.
We’ve all read books filled with emotion. Charlotte’s Web is one that comes to mind. Old Yeller also. I mean who doesn’t feel a lot when reading those books? Love, Aubry is a perfect example. That ‘s just about the most emotional story I’ve ever read! How about The Hunger Games? Especially the beginning, right when we learn about the world that Katniss lives in and the situation she finds herself in. Totally emotional.
So how exactly do you write with emotion? How do you get your readers to feel mad or excited at the very times you want them to? How do you make them laugh until their cheeks hurt, or sob with each page turn? Actually, it’s not as hard as you think.
They key is writing with the emotion you are currently feeling.
In the second novel I ever wrote, there is a sad scene. A very sad scene. A twelve year-old boy, who has recently lost his father to an illness, wakes up one morning to find nothing but a note from his mother. She’s gone. Now he’s all alone.
I knew this would be a sad scene to write because the situation itself is very sad. I never dreamed that I could write the scene in a way that would make anyone cry. Including myself. But I did. I often go back to that novel and read the first few pages. I still cry (like sob tears) every time I read it. And I’m the one who wrote it! How can that be?
I think it’s because, I went to a very deep, dark place within myself when I wrote it. No, my own father didn’t die when I was young. My mother never left me alone at age 12 to take care of myself. None of that ever happened to my own children or anyone else that I knew.
But what if it did?
I thought about that over and over. And I cried every time I imagined it happening to me or to any child I knew. The thought of it was horrible. I shuttered inside. I winced deep in my heart. I felt panic and fear. Though the idea was made up, the emotions were very real…because something like that could actually happen. And so as I wrote the words to my story, I used those emotions to describe the scene.
The revision process on that scene was long. It was hard to not make it overly dramatic. It was hard to fit the words to the actions playing out. It was hard to describe the mannerisms that might go along with the actions. But in the end, the scene felt real to me. That was my objective. I had to put myself in the main character’s head and convey what he would really be feeling. The result was an emotional scene. Emotional but real.
I think that’s they key to writing with emotion. Dig deep within yourself and keep it real.
If you feel angry, use that emotion to write a scene that needs anger. If you feel scared, use that emotion too. Tap into what it is that makes you feel afraid. Describe it in anyway that feels real to you. If you can do that, the result will be a very realistic scene because you’ve written it with your heart, not just your head.
So that’s my focus for writing this week as I revise. Are my scenes filled with the right emotions? Do they feel realistic? My readers will be the best judges of that, but if something feels off, hopefully I can catch it before they see it, and dig deeper. 🙂
On a completely unrelated note…
We have some exciting things happening on the blog!
First, next month is Swirl and Spark’s 1st Birthday. I love birthdays and so we are definitely going to celebrate! Please stay tuned for details because there could be presents involved.
Also, the September Critique Round is fast approaching too! Click on Critique Corner for details. I haven’t decided yet if this will be a critique round for kids or for adults. That totally depends on my readers. Please comment in the box below if you’d like to see a round for adults (since we’ve never done one before) or a round for kids. I need to know if we have interest either way. I will say this, for the first time in this critique round, I will offer a writing related prize. 🙂
So please, drop me a quick comment. Whether you’re ready to participate by submitting your work or just want to read to read the samples, let me know if you’d rather see work from adults or work from kids this time around. I want to target the greatest need right now.
And lastly, I will be adding more titles to the Book Nook shortly so stop back to check those out too!
Have a great sun- filled week of writing! And don’t forget to bring the emotion!