How to Show Emotion on the Page: The Cheat Sheets

Feelings are hard, in both reality and writing. This isn’t a ground-breaking concept, but stay with me.

Characterization is heavily rooted in emotion. Physical traits and personal history can help mold a vivid depiction for a reader, but what really tells an audience about a story’s protagonist and counterparts is how individuals react to situations. Those reactions are portrayed through emotion.

See? I have a point.

Characterization is only one aspect of what makes emotional reaction so key to the creation of a good story. If you ask someone, “what makes a good book?” how the book made them feel is probably going to be embedded in the response you receive.  In order to achieve this connection, the feelings of a novel’s cast need to transfer from paper to the reader. When your protagonist cries, readers need to feel pain. When your antagonist triumphs, readers should have an overwhelming desire to punch the jerk in the face (or make out with said person, depending on your writing style. I lean toward the latter).

All this mumbo-jumbo above is great to know, but how do you achieve it? That’s a question with a mile long answer. There are books written on the subject (check out a few here.) I’ve read one or two, but  when it comes time to write I’m not going to dig out my copy of Emotion, Tension & Conflict and look up the best way to convey “She felt sad”.

Warning: “She felt sad” is the worst route to take. Avoid at all costs. Please.

This leads me to the purpose of this post.  I have a confession. I’m a cheater.

I don’t take the time to dive into another book while writing my own. I use cheat sheets. These sites below help pinpoint frequent mishaps writers make, and help spark ideas.

Cheat Sheet For Writing Emotion

This is a fantastic list of emotional actions. One of the best lists I’ve found.

37 Ways To Write About Anger

Spoiler alert! This one focuses on the infuriating side of things!  Still, a great resource for when your character’s are feeling furious.

The Wheel of Emotions

(I’ll just stick it here to make things simple.)wheel-of-emotions

 

100 Words For Facial Expressions

Because you can only use “She grinned mischievously” so many times. Or not at all. In fact, don’t use it, use this list instead.

Tips On Effectively Conveying Character Emotion

This article does an incredible job of demonstrating how to put all of the above charts and tips to use. Show versus tell in reality! Woohoo!

I hope these links help you as much as they’ve helped me. Feel free to other links in the comments below. In fact, I encourage it. Thanks for sticking with me through this surprisingly long post (it’s like I’m a writer or something).

Until next time,

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The Publishing Industry is Subjective

If you are a writer who’s ever pitched a novel, or simply googled insight into the publishing industry, chances are you’ve heard this before.

I know I’ve heard it. I’ve experienced it. I’ve even accepted it. But it wasn’t until this past week I truly understood it. The following experience gave me a different view on those words.

About a month ago, I was given the opportunity to judge the first round of a writing contest. It was a simple “answer these questions, see if you qualify, and you can judge” sort of thing, but I was still looking forward to it. I couldn’t wait to see what the contest process was like from the other side! I opened the entries with excitement, read through them, made notes, and instantly attached to a certain story.  A week later I reread my samples, focusing on the technicalities and quality of writing. I carefully considered, tried to provide helpful feedback, and sent my judged files back to the contest coordinator with a sense of satisfaction. My judgments were fair. Every score I gave could be justified (at least by me!).

But here’s the crazy thing-

I didn’t give my favorite story the highest score.

Why? Because technically, it wasn’t the best. The highest scoring story flowed better. The sample was flawless. There were no mistakes, no awkward phrasing, and no grammatical errors (that I picked up on). It was simply  well written.

However, something about the second ranking sample spoke to me. The characters grabbed me, and the story drew me in. I wanted to read it.

What’s really puzzling is if I were to summarize the story lines, the highest ranking book had a better plot. More happened. It moved at a quick pace. But there was something about the second place book I loved. I don’t know what it was. I can’t explain it. It simply connected with me.

As I ponder this experience  I’m blasted with an understanding I thought I previously grasped, but obviously didn’t.

The love of a book is subjective.859697

My judging experience opened
my eyes to a new side of things. I’ll probably need to reread this post in the future to remind myself, but I finally understand. If  I were an agent, I wouldn’t have requested a full for an arguably well written book, simply because it didn’t speak to me.

This taught me how important it is to find people who connect with your work.  If my writing is good, and I constantly strive to improve my craft, eventually I will find the right people to help me get my book out there. A big part of success is commitment.

At least, that’s what I tell myself. jessica grace kelleyt signature

Until then, I’ll keep writing

 

 

 

A Gift of Poison – Four stars!

A Gift of PoisonA Gift of Poison, what a name! And like its intention grabbing name the book started off with a flourishing scene involving gambling, a good chase, and knives being thrown at our heroine.

This book certainly has a hook.

The story centers around a young girl named Briand, who’s sharp, beautiful under all her gruff antics, and gloriously flawed. She doesn’t lack in spirit but she does lack in discretion, and it tends to get her into trouble. The fact that the man who is charge of her wishes she didn’t exist doesn’t help her situation.

The book started off well. Briand is shunned by her Uncle to the “wildlands” which seems to be an eventual death sentence. Her cousin, Bran, and the Steward of the castle, Kael, want to save her from the harsh punishment, so they attempt to whisk her away somewhere safe. In the process it is revealed she is the “Dragonsayer”, meaning she can control animals – even dragons.

Sounds cool, right?

In many ways it is. Kate Avery Ellison is an amazingly descriptive author with a vivid imagination and this book is full of poetic world building. Some people don’t like that, but I do. And there are moments of really great story telling, such as the snake scene (when you read it you will understand) and the moment in the mountains with the lake (JUST READ IT!). It has loss, different cultures, and a great twist ending. This book is appropriate for young teens and still interesting for adults, which is a rare thing.

It’s just missing something.

I think what’s missing is more connections. More connections between the characters, and there are a few holes in the story. This is the first book of a series, so I suspect many of those holes were placed with purpose and will be explained in the future. That’s understandable. But this book’s description is “Intrigue. Romance. Dragons.” Those last two words are a bit understated in the storyline.

There are dragons, just not as many as you might like to see. That is fine with me, the first book of a series often offers only peeks of what’s to come. Be warned that if you are choosing this book because of the dragon aspect you might be disappointed.

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There are many great reasons to read this book, but if dragons are all you want go somewhere else, or wait until the next book in this series is released so you can jump right in.

As far as romance goes, this book is lacking in it.

Romance is starting to show by the end, but it hasn’t fully bloomed. I have a problem with that. I am a sucker for a good “angsty” duo or a spit fire boy and girl who love to hate one another. This book almost has it, but not quite. I think a little more would have driven the plot along, especially because the two characters in question are so much more multi-dimensional when they are together. They make one another better, not just as people but as characters in a story. I am hoping the next book will break past the “I almost like you” barrier. When Briand and her love interest cross over that line it is going to be quite a show!

Finally, the ending is abrupt. Way to abrupt. I wouldn’t call it rushed. The plot points that needed to be tied up in this book are taken care of and foundation for the next installment is laid. The book just sort of …Ends. Where it ends doesn’t really make any sense to me, so I felt sort of lost.

Overall, I’d say this book is good. Not great, but good. It wouldn’t be the first book by Ellison I would recommend, but I will be anxiously waiting for the next installment to be released, mostly because of the ending.

Wait.
I think she did that on purpose!
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3.75 stars, and I’m rounding up on all the sites that don’t allow decimals…which is all of them.
Thanks for the book Kate Avery Ellison! It was an enjoyable read.

So I wrote a book … now what?

No, I’m really asking, now what?

A few weeks ago, I finally wrote the last sentence of the novel I have been writing for the past two years.

Two. Years.

As soon as I finished, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride.

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I was joyful. Ecstatic. I had finally accomplished something that I had dreamed about doing as a little girl, and I was proud of it. So proud! I mean who cares if nothing ever came of it, I WROTE A BOOK!!!!!!! If no one else liked it at least I did, and I was okay with that. So what if I poured two years of precious time and effort into this thing? I didn’t need anyone’s approval, I was a strong independent woman who has accomplished a DREAM!!!!!!!!!!

I WAS A CHAMPION!!!!!! Right? … Right?

Well, yea, I was technically right. But here’s the thing about books. There not worth much if no one reads them. So, how was I going to get people to read it? and enjoy it? As I stared at the 107,000 words I had written ( I know, it’s long) I couldn’t help but think, Now what?

So I did the only thing I could think of. I entered a contest.

I wasn’t under any delusions that I would magically win and suddenly become a best selling Author.  I entered because they promised feedback, and feedback is invaluable. Creating my entry also forced me to look at the first two chapters of my book with a critical eye. It forced me to edit. It forced me to cut. All in all, it made my story better.

So, that was a good start! I took a first step!  I am going somewhere!

And after that first step, I arrived at the same question .

Now what?

So, I’m entering more contests and trying to gather some draft readers. Truthfully I’m just stumbling around, sort of lost. I am taking some time to read other people’s work, because I think a good writer has to be an avid reader . My inbox is jam packed with books, just waiting for me to review them! I can’t wait!  But I am worried this new experience is going to change my ability to critically review.  Will I still be honest about flaws? Will I be too connected to the author’s feelings, and suddenly be too biased?

Great job!!!!...Sort of.
Great job!!!!…Sort of.

Am I going to say “good work” to everything, just because I truly understand the blood, sweat, and tears that went into these pages? I open the first book on my list nervously. It’s written by a favorite author of mine, Kate Avery Ellison (review coming soon!) and I dive into the story.

Thank the book gods, I think I’ll be okay!

I have always enjoyed looking past a book’s surface and focusing on the details. Pacing, world building, and all the technicalities have always held a little magic for me. Suddenly I notice these intricacies more. I can read between the lines so much clearer now.

I am excited to post my next book review. I think it will be one of my better ones.

As far as my own book goes, I’m still stuck on island “next step is unknown”.

Anyone out there have any suggestions? A map? A guide? Anything? If so, please, send me a message in a bottle.  I could use some book direction.