Friday, July 10, 2009
Chain: Do you YOU! feel like I do?
Christine started this chain. Kate posted before me (and boy does it stink to be the last link).
So anyway, this time we're talking about emotions. Christine wants to know: How do you add emotional depth to your stories? How do you know when you have enough emotional content? And how do you keep it authentic?
I first read this question and thought: "This is like taking something intangible, plucking it out of thin air and holding onto it for dear life." But in a way, that's what fiction writers do.
We create characters from nothing, give them emotions and, hopefully, make our readers rejoice or laugh or cry or grieve over events that never really happened.
But how do I do that? Well, after taking my sweet time to mull the answer to that question, I came up with a list.
Here it is:
1. Know thy characters.
Certain people react certain ways to certain situations. (How many times can you use the word "certain" in a sentence?) By knowing the personalities of your characters, you give authenticity to their emotional reactions.
2. Conflict makes the fictional world go round. So, hey, what's the worst that could happen?
To answer this question, I close my eyes and let my brain scan the scenarios. When I get to one that makes my gut burn and my fingers tingle, I know I've found the answer.
3. Show me the emo.
Kate said it before me, and many have been saying it all along: Show, don't tell. Using strong verbs and vivid imagery, authors must pull their readers into the depths of a characters soul and make them feel exactly what the hero/heroine is feeling. Since writers don't have any other medium to accomplish this task, the correct words must be used.
4. Peel and onion, discover the layers within.
This goes along with Tip 1, knowing your characters. Revealing backstory (be careful) and subplots helps the readers understand the place from which those emotions are coming. This can help turn the emotional response factor of the reader from a minor surface wound to a massive hemorrhage.
5. Don't stop till you get enough. (As if we haven't had enough of MJ lately, huh?)
Others in the chain have mentioned this, too, but this is where the crit buddies come in. No matter how brilliant an author may be, it is impossible to accurately judge one's own work. It is imperative to get feedback from crit partners on whether or not your characters are responding appropriately and whether or not you've overwritten a scene.
So, there you go. Those are my responses. How about you? Do you feel the way I do?