How to make your story burn with emotion

Have you ever been so moved by a story that when you finished the book, you felt you said goodbye to a good friend, to a world you might never see again? Were you so immersed in the characters and their lives that everything they felt, you felt as well? Do you want your story to be as powerful, your characters as unforgettable?

Following are a few techniques you can use. Some take practice, but that’s how we learn to write: by writing.

  • Emotion
  • Tension
  • Showing instead of telling
  • Deep point of view

Emotion

A great technique writers can use to bring forth this immersion and interest is to bring emotion to your story.
Emotion helps to make your characters three-dimensional. Get right inside the reader’s head with the character’s anger, happiness, jealousy, curiosity. Create sympathetic characters the reader can identify with. The character’s situation should also be such that the reader can sympathize, especially if you’ve set up the story and gotten the reader involved in the character’s conflicts and goals. For example, which one of these two scenarios do you think would resonate with the reader more powerfully?

  1. The heroine is upset because her rival at the school dance is wearing the same dress as she is.
  2. The heroine is upset because her rival at the school dance is kissing the heroine’s boyfriend.

In the second scenario, the situation cuts deeper on an emotional level. The same dress issue might cause some embarrassment, but seeing another girl kiss the boy the heroine loves? That burns.

If you set up the story and the reader has identified with the heroine and has gotten to know her in the first couple of chapters–perhaps discovering this boy is her first true love–by the time the heroine sees him kissing the other girl, the reader might want to jump right into the book and say a few choice words to the rival, and to the boyfriend, too.

Dip right into what the character is feeling at that moment. If this is a turning point in the story, perhaps the black moment, bring home to the reader the character’s anguish and hurt as she watches her rival kiss the boy she loves.

Tension

Tension should be present in every one of your scenes. Make the situation for the character worse, and worse, and worse again. Tension and emotion along with pacing help to make your story resonate with the reader.

Showing instead of telling

This means that you show what is happening instead of merely telling (I was cold vs. I couldn’t feel my fingertips.) You are putting the image into the reader’s head.

Deep point of view

Write the scene as if you are in the character’s head, going through the same physiological and physical reactions to what is happening.

Which of these two descriptions would resonate with the reader more?

  • Olivia’s boyfriend was kissing Britney, the most popular girl at the school. Angrily, Olivia walked up to them and pushed them apart. To Britney she said, “Get your hands off my boyfriend.”
  • Olivia circled like a hawk around the dimly lit room. Where was Mark? He’d been disappearing for minutes at time. Nearing a dark corner, she stopped and stared. Was that him? She recognized his peach cummerbund and bow tie that matched her dress. But what was he doing? She stepped closer.

    Oh, God. He had his arms around someone, was kissing her. And not just a light kiss, but an all-out liplock.

    Olivia’s mind denied it even as she approached and stood a few feet away.

    He was kissing…Britney.

    Britney, the most popular girl at the school. Britney, who always got who and what she wanted. She merely had to snap her fingers and boys would come running.

    Olivia’s eyes burned with tears, and sudden rage made her clench her hands into tight fists. Britney might get whoever she wanted, but Mark was off limits.

    She reached them and shoved them apart. Turning to Britney, she spread her lips in a snarl. “Get your hands off my boyfriend.”

I used deep point of view and showing, not telling in the second example. Also, notice I didn’t use inner thoughts in italics, nor did I use tags. (Mark is off limits, Olivia thought.) There is no need. If you are in deep point of view, the reader knows we’re in Olivia’s head. Using italicized thoughts in present tense and adding who thought it makes for awkward, redundant reading. Instead, use past tense and play out the character’s deep point of view and actions as the scene unfolds.

Practice your writing using these basic techniques, and watch your story burn with emotion.

Link Roundup: Homemade Soap

Homemade soap is something I want to try making at some point. The molds and ingredients are easily acquired and the finished product makes for a lovely gift. Click on the links below and get some ideas on making your own soap.

Homemade Gift Series #2: Homemade Soap

71 Of The World’s Best Homemade Soap Recipes

44 Ways to Color Homemade Soap Naturally (You can also buy soap colors)

Soap Molds (The plastic molds remind me of the Playdough molds my child used. Most might be too small, though.)

Handling the Holidays

stressed out-woman-holidays-pam roller-romance authorAh, the joys of those weeks leading up to Christmas Day. The lights, the music, the sales, the chipper shoppers! Finding that perfect gift, singing carols, decorating the tree, wrapping presents, preparing for houseguests. All is merry and exhilarating and zippy.

The big day approaches, and reality hits. Everyone is in a hurry and everyone else is in the way.

All is harried and hurried and exhausting. The crowds, the noise, the traffic. Moods plummet. Sighs of frustration taint the atmosphere. Folks become tense, anxious. So much left to do!

And those jolly holiday Rudolph and Santa coming to town songs that set the mood weeks ago are now so annoying that you’d like to twist them into some dark hardcore screamo.

How do we get through it all without going off the deep end? Here are some tips from examiner.com and a few of my own:

  • Make lists and manage your time, including giving time to yourself. Extra time, if need be.
  • Adjust your expectations. We all want things to be perfect, but they rarely are. Just go with the flow.
  • Try smiling. Smiling gives you an emotional boost, and your smile will improve the stressed moods of all those around you.
  • Manage your alcohol intake. Too much drinking can lead to aggressive behavior and conflict.
  • Watch your spending. There’s no use going into debt trying to please others if it will affect your mind and body (and bank account) in a negative manner.
  • Ring that bell. The Salvation Army could use your help. Empathy and giving go a long way in dissipating anger and frustration.
  • Forgive. Holding a grudge against another only hurts you. Wash away the resentments and marvel in how much lighter is your heart.
  • Lack of self-confidence is the root of bullying and bad attitudes. Love and believe in yourself, and you’ll attract the good to you like a powerful magnet.
  • Acknowledge your feelings. You’re pissed off, disappointed, or sad. Or all three. Recognize how you feel, cry if you need to, yell it out into your pillow, and let it go.
  • Remember the reason for the season, and celebrate! Christ is born, our savior.
  • Take some time and go to your quiet place, and reflect on how good life has been, or how good life will be. Positive thinking brings about positive things in your life. Read this post for an lovely, peaceful message.
  • Love. Your family, your friends, yourself. Just…love.

Edgar Allan Poe’s lost loves

“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.”
― Edgar Allan Poe

October 7 marks the anniversary of the death of Edgar Allan Poe. Edgar often wrote about lost love, and he certainly had the life experience to do so.

His father left the family and his mother died when Edgar was just a toddler. Edgar spent his childhood and teenage years with foster parents, wealthy tobacco merchant John Allan and his wife Frances Allan, in Richmond, Virginia. They never adopted him. He attended the University of Virginia at the age of 17 with good grades but very little money provided by Allan, and by the end of his first term dropped out and returned to Richmond to be with his fiancée, Elmira Royster. Alas, Elmira had dumped him and was engaged to someone else. Off Edgar went to join the United States Army.

He was twenty when Frances Allan, dying of tuberculosis, asked to see him. By the time he returned to Richmond, she had been buried.

Virginia Clemm

John Allan sent Edgar to West Point, but then remarried without telling Edgar. Offended and angry, Edgar got himself expelled and, alone and broke, moved to the home of his late father. A relative, Maria Clemm, took him in. Edgar fell in love with Maria’s daughter, Virginia.

After John Allan died, Edgar discovered he’d been left out of the will. Edgar had started publishing his stories, though, and eventually landed an editorial position at a magazine in Richmond. He gained a reputation as a critical reviewer, throwing a one-two punch: he wrote scathing remarks about some of the books he reviewed, and he insulted the authors of those books.

When Edgar was twenty-seven, he moved Maria and Virginia Clemm, who was thirteen years old, to Richmond, and married Virginia.

Barely able to make a living with his writing career, Edgar championed higher wages for writers as well as an international copyright law.

One afternoon in 1842 while playing the piano, Virginia broke a blood vessel, indicating the first signs of tuberculosis. Five years later, during which Edgar drank increasingly and grew more depressed, she died. Overcome by grief, Edgar continued to work but suffered from poor health and financial struggle.


Deep in earth my love is lying

And I must weep alone.

From 1847 to 1849, Edgar loved other women. He was engaged to the poetess Sarah Helen Whitman for about a month. Upon discovering that Elmira Royster Shelton was now a widow, he began to court her once again. Alas, a marriage was not to be.

Alone

From childhoods hour I have not been

As others were – I have not seen

As others saw – I could not bring

My passions from a common spring

From the same source I could not have taken

My sorrow; I could not awaken

My heart to joy at the same tone

And all I lov’d, I lov’d alone…

Edgar Allan Poe
No one is really sure what happened during Edgar’s last days. He took the train to Philadelphia, but there is speculation that he got on the wrong train and went to Baltimore instead. He disappeared for five days and then was found half-conscious and taken to Washington College Hospital. He died on October 7, 1849, at forty years old. His last words were, “Lord, help my poor soul.” Neither his mother-in-law nor his fiancée knew what had happened to him until they read about his death in the newspaper.

Potty mouths of the 17th century

I’ve come across a wonderful book entitled The First English Dictionary of Slang, 1699 (Bodleian Library, 2010). This book was originally written by a man named B.E. Gent in 1699 under the title of A New Dictionary of Terms, Ancient and Modern, of the Canting Crew, and its purpose was to educate the more refined London classes as to the language of thieves and ruffians—called ‘canting’. The book also contains common slang used by sailors, soldiers, laborers, and lower domestic households.

Ready for a few of these words and phrases? Here we go, and I’ve written them exactly as they are in the book:

Handy Blows: Fisty-cuffs

Puke: to Spue

Fresh-man, a Novice, in the University

Baggage / Crack: a Whore or Slut

Cut: Drunk

Deep Cut: very Drunk

Night-walker: a Bell-man; also a Light Woman, a Thief, a Rogue

Bog-houses: Privies

Nooz’d, or caught in a Nooze: married; also Hanged

Hart: the Sixth year, A Stag, the fifth Year. A Staggard, the fourth. A Brock the third. A Knobber, the second.

Hind Calf, or Calf, the First

Rayn-deer: a Beast like a Hart, but has his Head fuller of Antlers.

Punch-houses: Bawdy-houses

Rot-gut: very small or thin Beer

Scab: a sorry Wench, or Scoundril-Fellow

Slubber-degullion: a slovenly, dirty, nasty Fellow

Stubble-it: hold your Tongue

Bil-boa / Degen: a Sword

Bagonet or Bionet: a Dagger

Dag: a Gun

Twitter: to Laugh much with little Noise; also to Tremble

Vain-glorious, or Ostentatious Man: one that Pisses more than he Drinks

Clack: a Woman’s Tongue

Cull: a Man, a Fop, a Rogue; Fool or Silly Creature

Dells: young bucksome Wenches, ripe and prone to Venery, but have not lost their virginity, which the upright man pretends to, and seizes: Then she is free for any off the Fraternity; also a common Strumpet

Darkmans: The night

Dock: to lie with a Woman. The Cull Dockt the Dell in the Darkmans, the rogue lay with a Wench all night.

Oliver’s Skull: a Chamber-pot

Totty-headed: Giddy-headed, Hare-brain’d

Nug: A Word of Love, as, my Dear Nug, my Dear Love

Antidote: a very homely Woman, also a medicine against Poyson

Want to see more? Click here!

Potty mouths of the 17th century

I’ve come across a wonderful book entitled The First English Dictionary of Slang, 1699 (Bodleian Library, 2010). This book was originally written by a man named B.E. Gent in 1699 under the title of A New Dictionary of Terms, Ancient and Modern, of the Canting Crew, and its purpose was to educate the more refined London classes as to the language of thieves and ruffians—called ‘canting’. The book also contains common slang used by sailors, soldiers, laborers, and lower domestic households.

Ready for a few of these words and phrases? Here we go, and I’ve written them exactly as they are in the book:

Handy Blows: Fisty-cuffs

Puke: to Spue

Fresh-man, a Novice, in the University

Baggage / Crack: a Whore or Slut

Cut: Drunk

Deep Cut: very Drunk

Night-walker: a Bell-man; also a Light Woman, a Thief, a Rogue

Bog-houses: Privies

Nooz’d, or caught in a Nooze: married; also Hanged

Hart: the Sixth year, A Stag, the fifth Year. A Staggard, the fourth. A Brock the third. A Knobber, the second.

Hind Calf, or Calf, the First

Rayn-deer: a Beast like a Hart, but has his Head fuller of Antlers.

Punch-houses: Bawdy-houses

Rot-gut: very small or thin Beer

Scab: a sorry Wench, or Scoundril-Fellow

Slubber-degullion: a slovenly, dirty, nasty Fellow

Stubble-it: hold your Tongue

Bil-boa / Degen: a Sword

Bagonet or Bionet: a Dagger

Dag: a Gun

Twitter: to Laugh much with little Noise; also to Tremble

Vain-glorious, or Ostentatious Man: one that Pisses more than he Drinks

Clack: a Woman’s Tongue

Cull: a Man, a Fop, a Rogue; Fool or Silly Creature

Dells: young bucksome Wenches, ripe and prone to Venery, but have not lost their virginity, which the upright man pretends to, and seizes: Then she is free for any off the Fraternity; also a common Strumpet

Darkmans: The night

Dock: to lie with a Woman. The Cull Dockt the Dell in the Darkmans, the rogue lay with a Wench all night.

Oliver’s Skull: a Chamber-pot

Totty-headed: Giddy-headed, Hare-brain’d

Nug: A Word of Love, as, my Dear Nug, my Dear Love

Antidote: a very homely Woman, also a medicine against Poyson

Want to see more? Click here!

Does the power of positive thinking really work?

Most, if not all, of us have these naysayers in our head who show up sometimes, often when things are going well and our guard is down. These killjoys, wet blankets, prophets of doom-—whatever you want to call them-—pop in just to show us the bad things that could happen in our circumstances and give discouraging outlooks on our hopes, dreams, and plans. We try to ignore the bad thoughts, but they grow. Self doubt jabs us with small, soft balls of worry, or slams us repeatedly like concrete blocks. The day starts off badly and goes downhill from there. Sometimes we fight; other times, we give in and just want to curl up in a dark room and succumb to the distress.

There is a solution, and it works. Say what you want to happen, what you expect to happen. Create daily or even hourly (or more, if things are really bad) positive aspirations for yourself. Utter your plans and goals, wishes and desires out loud, whenever you need to. Some call this prayer, some call it meditation. Whatever you consider it to be, intersperse your desires with plenty of thanks for what you have and what you’ve accomplished, even if it doesn’t seem like a great deal. It is. Write down your accomplishments and blessings if it helps.

Just say it. Make it real to yourself by repeating it over and over. Slowly you change your outlook. You will put the inner naysayer to rest. You realize you do have faith in yourself to reach your goals. It’s all in thinking positively.

Related posts:

How the Power of Positive Thinking Won Scientific Credibility

Law Of Attraction

Does the power of positive thinking really work?

Most, if not all, of us have these naysayers in our head who show up sometimes, often when things are going well and our guard is down. These killjoys, wet blankets, prophets of doom-—whatever you want to call them-—pop in just to show us the bad things that could happen in our circumstances and give discouraging outlooks on our hopes, dreams, and plans. We try to ignore the bad thoughts, but they grow. Self doubt jabs us with small, soft balls of worry, or slams us repeatedly like concrete blocks. The day starts off badly and goes downhill from there. Sometimes we fight; other times, we give in and just want to curl up in a dark room and succumb to the distress.

There is a solution, and it works. Say what you want to happen, what you expect to happen. Create daily or even hourly (or more, if things are really bad) positive aspirations for yourself. Utter your plans and goals, wishes and desires out loud, whenever you need to. Some call this prayer, some call it meditation. Whatever you consider it to be, intersperse your desires with plenty of thanks for what you have and what you’ve accomplished, even if it doesn’t seem like a great deal. It is. Write down your accomplishments and blessings if it helps.

Just say it. Make it real to yourself by repeating it over and over. Slowly you change your outlook. You will put the inner naysayer to rest. You realize you do have faith in yourself to reach your goals. It’s all in thinking positively.

Related posts:

How the Power of Positive Thinking Won Scientific Credibility

Law Of Attraction

Love in the workplace

It happens. You get a job in a company and love what you do. You spend eight or more hours a day with coworkers who share your skills, education, job interests, and work ethic. Attraction blooms. Maybe you look into the person’s eyes, and you just know. Or it may take awhile.

At some point you find your fingers touching your co-worker’s while reaching for the same menu or sticky note or financial report. You just happen to “bump into each other” more and more in the hall or the break room.  Love settles over the two of you like a light, happy cloak, then tightens its hold until you’re wrapped up together tighter than a straightjacket.

Workplace love. It’s wonderful. It’s exhilarating.

Is it wrong? Depends.

Workplace romances are tricky. CareerBuilder.com says you should check your company policy on dating. And be careful about dating your boss or your subordinate. Nearly one in five people have admitted to dating their boss, but supervisor/subordinate relationships are often frowned upon as these may lead to sexual harassment cases. Social recruiter and strategist Meghan M. Biro states in Glassdoor’s blog that boss/employee relationships can lead to job jeopardy and co-worker jealousy as well as fodder for the rumor mill.

Hey baby, meet me in the copy room after work.

So you’re dating your co-worker. You’re not alone. Glassdoor’s survey revealed that 51% of workers gave a thumbs up on co-worker romance. One in ten people have had sex in the workplace and one in five have thought about doing it. However, 54% agreed that ending a romance led to workplace awkwardness. 38% of people have dated a co-worker over the course of their career, and 31% of these romances led to marriage. While 63% were open about their workplace relationships, 37% kept theirs secret (careerbuilder.com). If you do form a love relationship with a co-worker, keep personal relationship issues outside work and work issues outside the relationship. Glassdoor’s career and workplace expert Rusty Rueff adds that you should keep it confidential until you’re sure you have a lasting relationship.

Health Guidance advises workers to stay away from anyone who is married. Having an adulterous relationship with
someone at work can be detrimental for your career, not to mention your character. Also, keep your hands off each other at work to avoid your own embarrassment as well as discomfort and “get a room” comments among your fellow co-workers. Keep your company emails to each other business as usual since your company may monitor these. Finally, be sure to continue your social relationships with your co-workers instead of limiting your break times to only your love interest.

Love in the workplace

It happens. You get a job in a company and love what you do. You spend eight or more hours a day with coworkers who share your skills, education, job interests, and work ethic. Attraction blooms. Maybe you look into the person’s eyes, and you just know. Or it may take awhile.

At some point you find your fingers touching your co-worker’s while reaching for the same menu or sticky note or financial report. You just happen to “bump into each other” more and more in the hall or the break room.  Love settles over the two of you like a light, happy cloak, then tightens its hold until you’re wrapped up together tighter than a straightjacket.

Workplace love. It’s wonderful. It’s exhilarating.

Is it wrong? Depends.

Workplace romances are tricky. CareerBuilder.com says you should check your company policy on dating. And be careful about dating your boss or your subordinate. Nearly one in five people have admitted to dating their boss, but supervisor/subordinate relationships are often frowned upon as these may lead to sexual harassment cases. Social recruiter and strategist Meghan M. Biro states in Glassdoor’s blog that boss/employee relationships can lead to job jeopardy and co-worker jealousy as well as fodder for the rumor mill.

Hey baby, meet me in the copy room after work.

So you’re dating your co-worker. You’re not alone. Glassdoor’s survey revealed that 51% of workers gave a thumbs up on co-worker romance. One in ten people have had sex in the workplace and one in five have thought about doing it. However, 54% agreed that ending a romance led to workplace awkwardness. 38% of people have dated a co-worker over the course of their career, and 31% of these romances led to marriage. While 63% were open about their workplace relationships, 37% kept theirs secret (careerbuilder.com). If you do form a love relationship with a co-worker, keep personal relationship issues outside work and work issues outside the relationship. Glassdoor’s career and workplace expert Rusty Rueff adds that you should keep it confidential until you’re sure you have a lasting relationship.

Health Guidance advises workers to stay away from anyone who is married. Having an adulterous relationship with
someone at work can be detrimental for your career, not to mention your character. Also, keep your hands off each other at work to avoid your own embarrassment as well as discomfort and “get a room” comments among your fellow co-workers. Keep your company emails to each other business as usual since your company may monitor these. Finally, be sure to continue your social relationships with your co-workers instead of limiting your break times to only your love interest.

Five ways to tell if you’re an introvert or extrovert

Do you cringe when you receive an invitation for a home sales party, wedding shower, or group setting? Or do you look forward to being with the crowd and participating in the activities? Do you lose energy in a big crowd?

You may be familiar with the terms introvert and extrovert and already know which type fits you more. Most people are not exclusively introverts or extroverts, but fall somewhere toward the middle with a penchant toward one or the other.

If you’re not sure where you fall on the introvert/extrovert scale, here are five ways to tell:

Introverts

  • Gain energy by being alone
  • Lose energy by being in crowds
  • Prefer one-on-one or very small group settings
  • Think it over before speaking
  • Observe before acting

Extroverts

  • Gain energy from crowds and social situations
  • Lose energy when alone
  • Enjoy being in the thick of things, in crowded situations
  • Tend to speak off the “tops of their heads”
  • Jump right in to whatever is at hand (discussions, situations)

A well-meaning extrovert might mistakenly see an introvert as a shy person who needs help to socialize, and will attempt to bring her out of her shell. This only makes the introvert more uncomfortable with the situation and with the person who is pushing her into the crowd or drawing her out.

Recently I attended a dinner for friends of ours whose son would marry the next day. One woman at the table was outgoing and friendly. She spent the meal talking and asking questions of those at the table, the usual small talk inquiries about where we worked, where we lived, what we liked to do. I answered her questions but didn’t elaborate, and I’m sure I came across as shy or snobby or antisocial. But honestly, answering her questions about myself made me uncomfortable. I didn’t care for it at all. I would rather listen to someone talk than be in the spotlight. Conversely, when the woman asked my husband questions, he loved it. He can socialize all day with others; he is an extrovert and this sort of thing gives him energy and happiness. As an introvert, I was happy just observing and listening.

The first link below is an online test that gives a basic overview of your own extro/introversion. The second is an interesting article discussing the myths (and the facts) about Introverts.

Related posts:

Extroversion Introversion Test

10 Myths About Introverts

Five ways to tell if you’re an introvert or extrovert

Do you cringe when you receive an invitation for a home sales party, wedding shower, or group setting? Or do you look forward to being with the crowd and participating in the activities? Do you lose energy in a big crowd?

You may be familiar with the terms introvert and extrovert and already know which type fits you more. Most people are not exclusively introverts or extroverts, but fall somewhere toward the middle with a penchant toward one or the other.

If you’re not sure where you fall on the introvert/extrovert scale, here are five ways to tell:

Introverts

  • Gain energy by being alone
  • Lose energy by being in crowds
  • Prefer one-on-one or very small group settings
  • Think it over before speaking
  • Observe before acting

Extroverts

  • Gain energy from crowds and social situations
  • Lose energy when alone
  • Enjoy being in the thick of things, in crowded situations
  • Tend to speak off the “tops of their heads”
  • Jump right in to whatever is at hand (discussions, situations)

A well-meaning extrovert might mistakenly see an introvert as a shy person who needs help to socialize, and will attempt to bring her out of her shell. This only makes the introvert more uncomfortable with the situation and with the person who is pushing her into the crowd or drawing her out.

Recently I attended a dinner for friends of ours whose son would marry the next day. One woman at the table was outgoing and friendly. She spent the meal talking and asking questions of those at the table, the usual small talk inquiries about where we worked, where we lived, what we liked to do. I answered her questions but didn’t elaborate, and I’m sure I came across as shy or snobby or antisocial. But honestly, answering her questions about myself made me uncomfortable. I didn’t care for it at all. I would rather listen to someone talk than be in the spotlight. Conversely, when the woman asked my husband questions, he loved it. He can socialize all day with others; he is an extrovert and this sort of thing gives him energy and happiness. As an introvert, I was happy just observing and listening.

The first link below is an online test that gives a basic overview of your own extro/introversion. The second is an interesting article discussing the myths (and the facts) about Introverts.

Related posts:

Extroversion Introversion Test

10 Myths About Introverts