Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How to Hook Your Readers With Emotion

     As a fiction writer, you've probably been told that  your readers must care about the story's characters or they won't keep reading. Good advice, but how do you accomplish that?
     The best way to make  your readers care is to enable them to feel the same emotions your characters feel. Once they are emotionally involved, the story will take on a personal meaning.
     An emotional reaction begins with a physiological change in the body: a tightening of the stomach; a tingling of the arms and legs; a pounding of the heart; a lump in the throat. Some responses may 
extend to the outer body: foreheads perspire, fingers tremble, lips quiver. We experience these internal responses whether we want to or not.
     An emotional reaction becomes external when we express with our bodies what we are feeling inside. An angry man twists his face into a frown. He might also take a swipe at the object of his anger. A happy woman curves her lips into a smile and may embrace the person who has made her happy.
     To emotionally involve your readers, allow them to participate in the character's internal and external reactions. 
     Suppose your character, Joe, has received a letter from his wife stating that she plans to divorce him. An internal reaction might go like this:
     As Joe read Susan's letter, a knot formed in h is stomach.
     An external reaction might be:
     Joe shredded the letter and tossed it into the wastebasket.
     Or, you might combine action with dialogue:
     Joe snatched up the phone and punched in Susan's number. When she answered, he shouted, "You're not going to get rid of me. I'll never give you a divorce. Never!"
     Responses to stimuli are highly individual; therefore, you must thoroughly know your characters. Spend time with them before you begin writing. Imagine them in a variety of situations and decide how they would respond.
     You can also build your awareness of emotion and its manifestation in behavior by observing yourself. What sensations do you experience in a particular situation? What actions do you take?
     Observe others for outward signs of emotion: shuffling feet, trembling fingers, tightly pressed lips. Listen to voices. Is there a drop in tone? A thickening? A shakiness? In each instance, determine the stimulus and the resulting emotion.
     Avoid cliches when showing emotion. Seeking the unique expression will make your characters emerge as individuals rather than as stereotypes. 

Labels: Fiction Writing; Writing Techniques: Emotion in Fiction

Saturday, August 24, 2013

7 Ways to Achieve Smooth Scene Transitions

            Transitions help the reader to move smoothly from scene to scene. Transitions are especially needed when certain changes are made. One change is that of place. Another is time. Still another is viewpoint.
            There is nothing wrong with simply telling what the change is.  However, if you want to add an interesting touch, link the scenes by introducing something at the end of one scene that is repeated or referred to at the beginning of the next scene.
            Here are some links you might use:
            1. Emotion. One scene ends with a character expressing a particular emotion. The next scene opens with the same emotion.
            Mary walked out the door, laughing at Sam’s joke.
            She was still laughing when they arrived at the beach.
            2. An object.
            Sue read the letter for a second time.
            She was still clutching the letter when the police arrived.
            3. The weather.
            As David left for work that morning, the rain was just beginning.
            When he arrived at his office, he could barely see through the windshield.
            4. A name.
            The personnel director told Joan her boss would be Ms. Marshall.
            Ms. Marshall turned out to be even more formidable than Joan had expected.
            5. A sound.
            When the party was underway, Lorene could barely hear her TV over the noise.
            By the time she was ready for bed, the roar of the crowd was deafening.
            6. A place.
            “Be careful in Madrid,” Jocelyn warned.
            When she reached Madrid, Darlene immediately got lost trying to find the hotel.
            7. A question. One scene ends with a question that is answered at the beginning of the next scene:
            Would they find something to eat at the beach? Mary wondered as she and Sam walked out the door.
            The first thing Mary saw when they arrived was a hotdog stand, but she hated hotdogs.
            Examine your scenes to see how your characters move from place to place, from time to time, from viewpoint to viewpoint. Can you use any of the links above to add interest to the transition?   

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Watercolor copyright
by Linda Hope Lee


     To use the setting to link your series books together, choose various aspects of the setting and repeat them in each book. Readers will enjoy revisiting familiar places along with the characters. Showing how the characters respond to the various setting elements will enrich the story.
     Here are some examples from my Red Rock, Colorado series.
     The TransAmerica Railroad. The train plays an important role in each story. In book 1, Finding Sara, the train provides a means for Sara Carleton to escape an intolerable home situation. 
     For Rose Phillips in book 2, Loving Rose, the train is her livelihood, for she is TransAmerica's quality control manager.
     And, in Marrying Molly, book 3, the train brings Molly Hensen and her daughter back to Red Rock after a two-year absence.
     The Roundup Restaurant. Red Rock's popular eatery is featured in all three books. In Finding Sara, Jackson Phillips takes Sara to the Roundup after she's undergone a nerve-wracking interview at the police station. He hopes the homey, casual atmosphere will help her to relax, but she surprises him with a startling announcement.
     In book 2, Dr. Mike Mahoney is dining alone at the Roundup when someone confronts him and reveals a shocking secret about Rose, the woman he loves.
     For Molly in book 3, visiting the Roundup evokes bittersweet memories of the times she and her husband, Buck, had eaten there.
     The weeping willow tree. In the front yard of Jackson's ranch house stands a tall weeping willow tree. Propped against the tree's trunk is an old, weathered wagon wheel. To help her relax, Sara sits on the ranch house's front porch watching the tree's long branches brush the top of the wheel in the soft breeze.
     Loving Rose has a tense scene between Mike and Rose as they sit on the front porch. Like Sara, Rose calms her emotions by focusing on the tree and a robin as it perches on the wagon wheel.
     When Molly first returns to the ranch, the weeping willow catches her eye, bringing waves of nostalgia.
     These are only a few of the setting elements I have incorporated in all three books. Other elements include: a Denver hotel, the Rocky Mountains, a duck pond on the Phillips' ranch, and the grange hall.
     You might want to check out another of my blogs on series writing, Developing the Characters. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thanks to everyone for visiting my blog during TWRP's Blog Hop.  Karen Michelle Nutt is the winner of my drawing for a print copy of Loving Rose. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

             Image and text copyright by Linda Hope Lee
     Autumn is a favorite season of mine. I especially enjoy watching the leaves turn their beautiful colors. On my daily walk, I look for leaves to collect to use for art projects such as the one pictured here. 

    What make autumn special for you? Maybe that's when you're busy planning your annual Halloween party. Or cleaning out the garden and preparing it for winter. Or taking a car trip to view the fall colors. 
     Please leave a comment, along with your email address, and I'll enter your name in a drawing for a print copy of my latest TWRP book, Loving Rose.   Drawing will be made on November 1, 2012.
     Thanks for stopping by!
     Here are the next blog stops in TWRP blog hop:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Winner of My Drawing

The winner of the drawing for a copy of Loving Rose is Laurie Ryan. My thanks to all who participated. I think we had an interesting discussion about writing a series. It was fun sharing ideas.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Writing a Series

When I began writing Finding Sara (The Wild Rose Press), I did not intend it to be the first book in a series. Somewhere along the way—I don’t remember exactly when—I decided to make Finding Sara the first of a trilogy.

The second book, Loving Rose, has now been published. I’m working on the third and last one, Marrying Molly.

It’s been an interesting experience. There are many things to take into consideration as you go along. You’re concentrating on the story at hand, but you’re also keeping in mind what you can include that will pave the way for the next book.

One thing you need to determine is exactly how you will tie the books together so that the term “series” will apply.

An obvious way is to have secondary characters in the first book be the main characters in the second book, and so on. In Finding Sara, rancher Jackson Phillips’ sister, Rose, had already broken up with Dr. Mike Mahoney when the story opens. Keeping the reason for their breakup a secret (I didn’t know it at the time, anyway) and having them remain apart during Finding Sara provided the basic plot for the next book, Loving Rose.

Sometimes, the characters who star in the books are related to one another, as is the case with Jackson Phillips and his sister, Rose. But sometimes, they are not. Molly Hensen, the star of the third story, Marrying Molly, is not related to Jackson and Rose, but she is “like family.” The seeds for her story are planted in Book 1. In Book 2, events occur that form the basic plot for Marrying Molly.

Other story elements, such as, setting, themes, and conflicts, may also help to tie books together as a series. These elements will be the subjects of future blogs.

I’d love to hear your opinions and ideas about series. If you’re a writer, what prompted you to write a series? How many books are there? What ties the stories together? If you’re a reader rather than a writer, what do you look for when choosing a series to follow?

Leave a comment and I’ll enter your name in a drawing for a print copy of Loving Rose. The drawing will close on Friday, November 11, 2011.