Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Wednesday's Writing Tip - On emotions
Still gleaning tips from Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain and this time it's on emotions. Building emotions into the story is important. Emotions are what draws the reader to continue to read on. We all have emotional reactions to things that happen in everyday life. So do the characters in our stories. Someone says or does something to the focus character of the story or of a particular scene, The main character sees something that is our of place in his or her orderly world. They react with emotions. Maybe they don't react as you would or your neighbor or friend or even a stranger reacts. The character must react in a way that is true to his or her nature.
As the writer, you can't just say. He or she saw the body and felt sick. That's telling the reader and not showing the reader what happened. How does the character react to this event. Does he or she laugh, cry, scream. There are many ways but the reaction must be true to the character.
In real life these emotional responses happen in a clump but trying to do this in a story can confuse the reader so the reactions must be spaced in a sequential patters. The same goes for bit action scenes. Jumping from one character to another can bring confusion. So the big action is shown through just the focus character's eyes with him or her taking the feature role. Theirs are the emotions that should matter to the reader because the focus character is the one they want to care about and to see either win or lose in the story.
So when you're writing decising what emotions a main character will feel must remain true to the character you have chosen to portray. Sometimes their actions won't be what you would do. While writing this bit I thought of Katherine Miller in Murder and Mint Tea and her discovery of the body or her nasty tenant and how she reacts and then what action she takes. Not what I would do but because of her protective nature, it's exactly what she would do.