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.

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