I’ve been thinking about emotion on the page, probably just because I’ve been working on the emotional edit for Diana’s story (Lady Chance). It’s a tough thing to do, and probably the most important–if you can’t feel with the characters, how can you feel for them?
I suspect this is also something that cannot be taught to other writers–lord knows, folks have tried. But you either get into the characters and connect with them or you don’t–that goes for readers and writers. And it’s so easy to get caught up in all the technical stuff–the sentence structure, the words, the punctuation, the descriptions, making the setting work, and covering up plot holes. That’s when you forget the story has to have a heart. The story has to get your blood pumping, it has to pull you in, and it has to connect you to the characters.
It’s why I think every writer falls in love (a little at least) with their fictional creations–we bleed with them, cry with them, laugh with them. And then we want to know what happens after the last page too–which is where sequels are so much fun.
This also makes me wonder if we don’t all read for specific emotions. A mystery when we want tension and danger and excitement, and a cozy mystery when we want that cup of hot tea and scones and to curl up with something comfortable. A romance for…well, duh, romance. A paranormal when we want the world on the page to be weirder than it is in reality (getting harder to get that all the time). Maybe that’s why books have developed those marketing tags–they tell us what we’re going to be reading so we can settle down with the emotion of choice.
And maybe that’s really the heart of our craft–learning to write with that heart that appeals, with that emotion that connects not just strongest to us, but to readers as well. That’s not only a hard thing to learn, but even harder to carry off.
Shannon, Great blog. Emotion is one of the hardest and easiest things to accomplish in a novel. Hardest because there has to be motivation for it. If the author can’t – or won’t – dig deep enough into their character for that motivation emotional responses won’t ring true on the page. It’s hard to give yourself over to a character that much but the rewards or a rich tale are worth it. A reviewer just said that my legal thrillers ‘have more heart than any in the genre’. That was the highest praise, indeed. Your work has never lacked for that wonderful heart either. Thanks for sharing.
Pingback: Letting Characters Marinate | Plotters & Pantsers: A Place for Writers