Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 5/30/14

More TRIGGER WORDS

FIRE!

When that word is screamed into the night (or day), everyone pays attention!  I made it all the way into my mid-50s before I was awakened by it: FIRE!  GET OUT!  FIRE!  Four of our neighbors lost their homes and most of everything in them—but no lives lost!  In my writing years since then, I’ve done a little exploring about that specific trigger word, and a few of the emotional responses it brings to people, such as…

Panic—the adrenalin starts pumping, the heart races and the fight-or-flight instinct prepares muscles to RUN!

Fright—prior knowledge of experiences with fire come into play as a person moves into action.

Tears (and laughter)—high octane energy creates very different reactions in people; some will scream as tears build and flow; others will emit what sounds like laughter as they escape the flames and discover that their loved ones are safe.

Each emotion creates actions and re-actions that force a person—the character in your novel—to move across the pages of your story.  The equation I teach about in advanced writing classes looks like this: Trigger Event + Emotional Response = Identity connection between writer and reader.  When we use the powerful tool of emotion, we must take great care, especially as we select the trigger words that will tap into the reader/writer connection.

There is really no way to avoid tapping in to our own emotions when building our stories and developing our characters—which is a good thing.  However, it is also our job to slip into a character’s situation—a character who is very different than we are—and guess-ti-mate what they might be FEELING.  This will allow the characters to interact, creating reactions to specific actions (or non-actions).  If the emotion is REAL, then this tool is used appropriately and can be very effective.  If the emotion is overly sentimentalized or false, this tool is abused.

Of all the techniques of story writing, building the skill of using emotion appropriately is (in my opinion) the core element.  There are as many mixtures of emotion as there are people on this planet (not to mention all the other planets “out there”).  Emotion is the amazing characteristic of the human condition that will either make or break a novel—or movie.  Most of you have probably heard of the movie reviewer, Roger Ebert.  The following is a quote of his—a very astute observation of the use of emotions in character development:

“Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions will never lie to you.”

There it is—the element of truth in storytelling.  I’ll leave that topic for another day.  For today, I will add one more thought.  If you are in the midst of writing your book—whether fiction/novel or nonfiction—and have lost touch with one of your characters, maybe someone in my field of ghostwriting can help.  The self-publishing industry is an excellent resource for finding whatever assistance you need.  DON’T GIVE UP!  The story you’re writing needs to be told!

Royalene ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.

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