June Rodriguez

We have taken off Spring Break to be with our kids and Easter with our families.

Join us again next Monday as we work our way to writing The End in our novels.
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June Rodriguez
JUNE: Last week at the meeting of my local RWA chapter our guest speaker spoke about using emotion in your writing. The need to show your characters’ emotional state and their emotional conflict. The information wasn't a new concept but it resounded with me in a new way. I have a hard time writing emotionally. Why? I looked at what I am currently writing and there is no emotion that stands out. No anger, sadness, or even unease. There should be something. I think it might be because I personally have repressed my emotional extremes for many years. Working to let go in my writing means letting go for me as well. So this week I will work on adding deeper emotional conflicts in my writing.

DORI: I think to write emotion we have to tap into our own feelings and experiences, which makes us feel vulnerable. Like peeling back our outer skin and letting the world see how we tick, see our innermost fears, and desires. What we, as writers, have to remember is that those emotions are human. We have all experienced fear, sadness, lust, joy, etc. Showing those emotions are what helps the reader empathize with our characters--puts them in their shoes. Without emotion, the reader remains unattached, distant from our characters, and therefore less interested in what happens to them. When we write we want our readers to care deeply about what happens to our characters, not be ambivalent.

Some emotions are harder to express in writing than others. For instance, fear is probably an easy emotion to acknowledge, whereas lust may be more personal, more embarrassing to acknowledge. Unfortunately, as writers we have to let go of our repressed feelings if we want writing that resonates with readers.

SARAH: In romance, emotion is everything! Like a principal in a ballet, a character's feelings must take center-stage. Readers want to live vicariously through the characters they read. Not only must a writer ensure a character solves the mystery, gets the girl/guy, or beats all odds, she owes it to the reader to emotionally experience every facet of the journey.

JACKIE: That is well put Sarah, it's a good thing to think about emotion like that. Emotion is the "beat" of the story. Like a heart, it pumps blood into the story, keeps it alive, otherwise it is just words.

I also relate to June's comments. Often, we fear ourselves being seen as related to our characters. We don't want readers to make the mistake that WE are like THAT. What does it mean if we can imagine such things? This is something I have faced myself.

But I think that is what makes writers so important. We CAN imagine that. So we are able to connect our readers to aspects of themselves and the world around them to what they feel; what they fear and desire.

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DORI: On a similar note as June's concern with emotion, what I fail to do with my writing is show sufficient interior thought. Interior thought is another way of understanding characters at a deeper, personal level. Part of interior thought conveys emotions, but it goes further than that. Interior thought helps the reader understand what makes a character tick, what motivates them, what they want, what they fear. So, on top of adding emotion, we need to make sure we add the character's voice to our writing, to draw the reader in and bring the story alive in a way that setting, plot, and dialog cannot do on their own.

SARAH: Interior thought is very much like the window into a character's soul. I know we all have the chops to write a smokin' hot scene full of action and suspense and even love, it's just a matter of remembering to layer in the little things that make a character stand out. Yep, this is just another example of the ole learning curve kicking us in the caboose! lol

DORI: I agree, all part of the learning process. June though doesn't give herself enough credit. It's just that she has to let go a bit and infuse more emotion. As the rest of her crit partners know she's got it in her.

JACKIE: You are absolutely right Dori. June, you are an amazing writer. I have watched June let "the horse gallop" a bit more with her current novel and it really makes it sizzle.

I think interior thought is the thread that sews the emotion and the actions together. If all you have is a thinking head, nothing seems real. If all you have is action, no matter how exciting or relevant, then you have a picture without a story. Emotions have to have a source and so do actions, and that is interior thought.

When a story is working well, all three are working in tandem. The trick is to keep the writer the boss and not let any one of these aspects take over, because at any given time in a story's telling, they will want to ham it up.

JUNE: That is a great way to think about the connection between the three Jackie. You guys have given me a lot to think about this week. Thanks for the great feedback.
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SARAH: During that same speaker's introduction, she asked us what sort of books made our "keeper shelf" and why. This got my hamsters to spinning. Obviously, I read romance because I enjoy the love story, but "love", if given a role, would be the meat in the lasagna. What makes up the rest?

I flipped through a couple of shelves and realized I have a fondness for spies, mysterious killers or stalkers, and definitely heroes and heroines who defy convention. Well, go figure! Ain't that a short blurb for my WIP?!

What about you gals? Do the plot/characters of your WIP reflect your tastes?

DORI: Absolutely! I caught the reading bug when I discovered my mother's old Nancy Drew books. Enter the mystery genre in my life. Next, I discovered Robert Ludlum in college, the master of spy/suspense novels. Loved them. Most of the other books that now line my bookshelves are in the suspense/thriller category from spies to legal thrillers. Because it is easier for me to write legal thrillers than spy thrillers (no covert ops in my background) that's what I gravitated towards in my writing life. I definitely want to write what I enjoy reading.

JUNE: My favorites list is a bit more varied. When I was younger I read science fiction, mysteries, and Shakespeare. I spent years reading plays and poetry. My current shelf runs to romance with a tug at your heart flavor. If it makes me want to cry I can’t wait to finish reading it. I am a little surprised to figure this out.

June Rodriguez
DORI: I missed being with everyone last week, but I’m so glad I went to Left Coast Crime. It was a great four days. I learned a lot and met a lot of other writers in my genre. Walked about feeling both inspired and unworthy. I realized that all of those writers I was listening to all had to start somewhere. They too had to write between jobs, family, and other life demands. That meant there is no excuse for me. On the other hand, listening to established writers reading from some of their work, I questioned my ability to write as well.

JUNE: Glad to have you back Dori. I’m not sure why genre writers seem to be so much nicer and more helpful to each other. All my experiences at conferences and workshops have been like yours. Someone is always willing to share what they have learned and eager to learn from others as well. I think that is why I am looking forward to signing up for more opportunities as soon as the funds will allow. You just have to remember that now that you are back to only remember the useful stuff and forget the downer stuff.

SARAH: I'm glad you had fun, Dori! You deserve the break. I can only imagine what a conference is like. I'm very excited at the prospect of attending the RWA Nationals when it arrives in Anaheim summer 2012. Long time away from now, but hopefully, I'll be going as an author! lol

If you let yourself get bogged down with the reality of writing, you're gonna be a candidate for the coo-house! Your voice is YOUR voice, just like those Big Dog writers. It's hard not to compare your writing to the glitzy work of the revered, believe me, I'm right there with ya! But they had to put their undies on one foot at a time, too. As a person who has read your writing, Dori, I don't think you have anything to worry about!
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JUNE: We had more problems with computers again this week. I’m not sure where I got my original manuscript formatting information but I have followed the same guideline for years. Sarah’s computer keeps changing her spacing between paragraphs. After several attempts at correcting the situation the problem still persists. Working with more than one operating system and switching work back and forth has also caused problems. Widows and orphans is a strange little formatting elf that helps to allow the full use of your page but can be difficult to find.

SARAH: A good web site for formatting of manuscripts is http://www.passionatepen.com/formatarticle.htm It was one of the first sites I found when I started googling "writing". Lol Jenna Petersen has a mega-load of information for writers of all walks. It's worth the click over.

My problem was completely operator error. LOL For years, I stuck with Windows 98 and now that I've upgraded to Vista and more recently, Windows 7-- I'm stuck within the trenches of the learning curve. Thanks go to Dori and June for showing me where the prompts were within my software. Whew! You gals made it look easy!
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JUNE: This week I took another small step forward. I am still doing some research but reading more in the format I have chosen is on my list of things to do.

DORI: I came back from LCC with stacks of books, to add to my already huge stack of books. I wish I had time to read them all. Every book I read certainly helps me as a writer. Guess I'm going to have to carve out time to read in addition to writing. Can someone create a 48 hour day?

SARAH: I don't know if this is a brag worthy tidbit or a confession of sorts! Since December, I have read and listened to close to 25 books. Yeah, my writing suffered, BUT I was able to pick up a feel for my genre's flow. I know the books I read were technically written the year or two before, but there was still a wealth of information to be had.

I know for my genre of Regency Romance there is a very distinct flavor to the stories and that was what I was "researching". LoL My writing is better for the exercise. I decided to redo the beginning of my MS and the extra work paid off. The first five lines of my MS were selected as one of 12 finalists in the New Beginnings Contest sponsored by author Jennifer Haymore. My first chapter and synopsis will compete for the grand prize of having an agent read the material for possible consideration!

JUNE: What I’m working on has its own set of perimeters. I plan on doing something along the same lines as you Sarah. I need a better feel for the rhythm of the movement of the story.

Big congrats on the contest finial and we are cheering you on.