Saturday, December 6, 2014

Eliciting Emotions

So how do you elicit emotion with your writing? The formula is somewhat ambiguous. What will work for one person might not work for another. However, we are all softies down in there somewhere, so you are the person whose emotions you need to jerk around.

This afternoon, I was reading The Hunger Games, book 2 for the first time. At one point my husband caught me crying complete with runny nose and real tears, and then like ten minutes later (or less), I couldn’t help but laugh, and I had to laugh out loud. And then of course I had to stop and try to explain why.

Speaking of The Hunger Games, this is the second time I read the first book, and I’m happy to say many of the issues I saw the first time around seem to have been fixed. It makes the reading much more pleasurable if I’m not backing up and trying to figure out what the point of some sentence or paragraph was making. Don’t be afraid of those nifty little squiggly green lines; they can tell you if your sentence is incomplete. Last time around, I was very nearly ready to strangle the writer by the time I was half way through the book, and it was already a movie by then, I think.

Back on track here. I have always been one of those who cries during sad movies, and I’ll cry every time I watch it. Being out here in the middle of nowhere, I may have a lot of movies, but with nine months of winter, we watch a lot of movies, and we might only get one or two new movies a year, unless we make the trip to town for long enough to go shopping. It’s a great time to browse the used movie bins.

Oops – let me try again. So how do you make yourself cry? It’s not easy. I’ve managed to do it once in all of the books I’ve written, and I know I’ve done a good job because I cry every time I read that part.

The trick is to show the agony – key word being SHOW. The whole ‘show vs. tell’ is a pretty big deal. You need to describe each tear, squeeze our chest with the broken heart, choke up our throats with the terror that won’t let us scream. Can you do that? Believe me, it’s not easy.

I’m in the process of rewriting the next book I intend to publish, and here in a few pages, I’ll be at a point where my princess becomes paralyzed with horror, but she doesn’t dare show the true depths of the horror in front of her. Can I bring chills to your spine? Can I choke you up with the tears she can’t afford to let fall? Only time will tell. Maybe someday when you read that book, you will remember reading this post and you might find it in your heart to let me know what you think.


1 comment:

William Kendall said...

Very challenging indeed for you!