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Through the years she spent struggling to learn the craft of writing, Juliet has been fortunate enough to learn with and from many talented writers. She wanted to share some of the knowledge she's learned with those of you who are thinking of making it a career. She will be adding new articles periodically, with the most recent posted at the top of this page and a listing of previous ones down below - so be sure you check back soon!

Emotions – They’re not just for PMS anymore ©
by Juliet Burns

I have to admit something. Though I write contemporary, my first love for pleasure reading is Historical. Recently, I finished a book, DANGEROUS PASSIONS, by Lynn Kerstan and for the last 5 pages or so I was crying. And when I put the book down, I sobbed for about 10 more minutes. And it wasn’t even THAT time of the month!!

That doesn’t happen very often. Only once in a great book, like FLOWERS FROM THE STORM by Laura Kinsale. Actually, anything written by Laura Kinsale will make me cry. But there are still a lot of books that make me tear up, or put a lump in my throat, or even just sigh in deep satisfaction.

Some of that has to do with the fact that I love a deep, dark, read. But I’ve also read romantic comedies that literally made me smile for days after reading them. Like Jenny Crusie. In WHAT THE LADY WANTS, Mira, 2002, Jenny made me laugh out loud.

So, what is it about these books? How does the author “show” the emotion so dramatically without getting all purple prose-ish? Think about the books on your keeper shelf. Why are they keepers for you? These are usually the books that you remember years, decades after you’ve read them. Why? Go back through those books and study them. Was it the language? Was it a certain character? And why that character?

When you’re writing an emotional moment, does it make you cry? Just as writing a love scene should make you need to take a cold shower—or jump your hubby when he walks in the door—writing an emotional moment should make you cry or laugh, or possibly both at the same time.

Think about the most intensely emotional moments in your life. I’d be willing to bet those moments held some sort of high stakes or huge change. Where everything was on the line and nothing would ever be the same. A wedding, a break up, having children, losing a parent, or finding a true love. It doesn’t have to be dark, but it does have to be intense, passionate, and usually, life-changing.

But that doesn’t mean it has to be External. Perhaps it’s just a moment of clarity, where you realize something new about yourself, or you come to be at peace about something, forgive someone, or accept a situation you cannot change, or you make a tough decision.

Deborah Hale says in her article, “What I did for Love”, that the most emotional moments must have a sacrifice. That the hero and/or heroine must give up their goal, or something important to them to show the depth of their love.

Writing emotion is usually stronger if it’s shown, not told. Telling is: John was furious! Showing the emotion is: John gripped the steering wheel until his hands ached. He wished it were Mary’s neck.

Think about the physical symptoms and how you feel when you’re furious and put your own fresh spin on it. If you’re feeling furious as you write it, the emotions will come across on the page.

Here’s some more articles on writing with emotion.

Make Them Laugh, Make Them Cry - Writing With Emotion ©2001 by Shirley Jump
Developing the Dark Moment ©1999 by Alicia Rasley
Subtext: What Lurks Beneath ©2002 by Deborah M. Hale
What I Did for Love: The Secret Heart of a Romance Novel ©1999 by Deborah M. Hale

More Great Writing Articles and Workshops:

Sexual Tension – You want his WHAT to go WHERE? © Juliet Burns
Writing a Query Letter to Hook the Editor © Juliet Burns
The Basics in a Nutshell - by a Nutcase © Juliet Burns
Those Pesky Archetypes © Juliet Burns
Ten Most Important Things To Do To Get Published © Juliet Burns
An Unforgettable Experience © Juliet Burns

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