Friday, September 5, 2008

Show me the Heartbreak, Baby!

Emotions. In the end, isn't that what grabs us in a fine piece of literature? I know that for me, that moment of OMG, I know just how this character feels is what allows me to suspend disbelief and live another life through the author's words. It's what keeps me turning the pages until the wee hours of the morning.

And I want to be able to do that, damn it!

Whether I'm writing what I actually get paid for (naughty romance), or the more sophisticated pieces I'd like to get paid for, I want to feel a oneness with my characters. But as a writer, I've learned that recreating emotional reality on the pages is far more than a simple regurgitation of events. A single gesture can mean the difference between whether a scene works, or doesn't. Less is truly more. But you know what? Easier said than done.

Edit Torrent is one of my favorite editing blogs and how to create moving depictions of emotion in writing is the topic of conversation this week. Check it out.

Until then, I'll share an excerpt of a novel that's been bubbling for a few months. I'm sharing this passage because it has challenged me, and is still challenging me.

Emotion. Easier said than done.

What are your tricks and tips for drawing your reader into your character's reality? How do you know when you've got a scene that will make your reader care enough to turn the page?


Willow The Wisp, A novel, excerpt

She steps into the downstairs office where their son has spent the last three days watching the opening credits to One Hundred and One Dalmations, over and over again.

Interrupt the flow, and there'll be hell to pay later. So barring the presence of blood or fire, the credits roll, twenty-four seven.

They live hostage to a fifty-seven pound dictator

“What are you crying about now?” Byron asks.

It’s not her husband's question that breaks her heart. It’s the delivery that does the deed, the impatient clip of consonants.

She wants to tell him that she's in mourning, but her tongue sits like stone in the well of her mouth.

She can taste the bitter heat of wasabi and soy sauce that another woman will kiss from his lips tonight, ignorant of the circumstances that drove him to escape in her arms.

She wants to tell him what she knows. But even if the words did break free, what difference would it make? Loving their son back to life, caring for him had consumed the last remnant of the woman Byron fell in love with twelve years ago.

Where had the girl who once righted her lover's world with a plate of strawberry pancakes gone?

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