Are you a new fiction author?
Fiction is all about the emotions.
One of your biggest challenges is keeping readers reading. You want to write a page-turner of a novel which sells. That will happen when you become familiar with emotions and how to write them.
Emotional stories start with you.
New fiction author: feel it, write it (it’s all about the EMOTIONS)
When I’m working with new fiction writing students I’m thrilled when they begin thinking about emotions in their story characters—and in their readers.
Your readers read your fiction to immerse themselves in another world; a world you create. For a short time, you’ll take readers away from the stress of everyday life. You make them feel.
Let’s look at some tips to help.
1. It’s all about feelings: what do you feel?
Pay attention to what you feel, as you read in your favorite genre. Think about the emotions the characters feel: do you feel them? Why? What did the writer do, which drew you into the story, so that your emotions became engaged?
It helps to read a novel twice when you want to study an element of fiction. In your first reading, you’re caught up in the story.
Use your second reading to study elements in fiction like:
- Character development;
- Narrative drive (suspense); and
- Reader emotions.
Restrict yourself to one element per reading.
Please take notes while you do this. Also, use what you discover immediately in your current novel.
2. Act the part: get into your characters
Your characters love, hate and act because of their emotions. We’re all different, because we’ve had different experiences; we think in different ways.
Let’s say you’re at work. Your boss tells you you’re giving a presentation in fifteen minutes. He can’t be at the pitch meeting, so you’re handling the meeting, and doing the pitch.
How do you feel? Many people hate public speaking. Others love it. How you feel about giving the presentation depends on the kind of person you are, and the experiences you’ve had. It also depends on your thoughts. You can think yourself into a feeling of excitement and confidence. Or you can think yourself into a panic.
As you write your novel or short story, your characters think, act and feel. Their emotions are governed by their thoughts, just as yours are.
Vital: remember to consider your characters’ emotions in every scene. What do they feel?
3. Imagine. Feel. What thoughts go through your mind?
Imagine you’re on holiday. You’re in a strange city. You don’t speak the language. It’s the middle of the day. You go for a walk alone to look at the sights, and now you’re lost. Moreover, you seem to have wandered into a bad part of town.
Imagine: what do you feel? What thoughts go through your mind?
Close your eyes for a moment. Imagine you’ve created a story person in the situation above.
Set the scene first: describe it.
You’re this person, alone, and lost. What do you see? Perhaps you see a couple hurrying along the opposite side of the street. Their heads are down; they walk quickly. They’re not comfortable either. What are you feeling? There’s no need to name the emotion; describe how your uneasiness feels. Maybe the hair stands up on the back of your neck. Your heart beats faster.
Now your thoughts. Describe what you’re thinking. You want to get out of there and you’re watchful, as you gaze around for threats. Maybe you think about who’s waiting for you at the hotel. You’re late, your partner will worry. The fight you had that morning, which motivated you to head out alone—forgetting your phone—no longer seems important.
Going forward, imagine your way through every scene in your novel.
If you’re a new fiction author: write first
Plot comes first. You don’t have a story if you don’t have a plot. Once you’ve got the glimmer of a plot, start writing. It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing a short story or a novel, write your story through from beginning to end.
In your second draft, you’ll do more thinking, as you put yourself into each character’s shoes. Imagine: feel what the character feels; think what he thinks.
When you include emotion in your fiction, you’ll write page-turners because you engage readers. You can do it. 🙂
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Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.