In the beginning was an idea – an idea that would eventually become a story. After plucking away on my keyboard, pouring my heart and soul into what I was sure was going to be literary gold, the truth bit me on the butt – and none too gently, I might add. My emotional masterpiece wasn’t a masterpiece at all. Why? Because my readers didn’t connect to the emotion of the scene. Sure, they knew what the emotions were – because I did a good job telling them. But by saying how my characters felt, I did a disservice to my readers, my characters and my story.
Readers connect with characters they can relate to – characters that “do” things – like hunching their shoulders when they are tired or picking at their clothes when they are nervous. And this was the part of my problem. I was really good at saying the character felt blah, blah, blah. But that made for a mediocre reading experience. By showing how the character felt – using body movements, etc – the scene was transformed.
There are some really good sources to help us as we journey along our writing path. One of those sources is a favorite website called Writers Helping Writers. Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman are the masterminds behind this site and if you haven’t visited – then click on the above link. You’ll love it.
Their book, The Emotion Thesaurus has become one of my favorite tools. When I get stumped on how to effectively show a certain character’s expression, I turn to this book. The thesaurus offers ideas such as physical signals, internal sensations and mental responses. It not only saves time but helps alleviate frustration.
What resource have you found that has helped you with your writing?