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