Sunday, October 11, 2009

Go overboard then bring your story to life with authentic emotion

Having trouble instilling emotion into your writing? Sometimes it's not enough to have a great idea for a story. Despite a well-organized outline and interesting plot and subplots, your story might not work if you don't bring it to life with authentic emotion.

If you tell your story from start to finish, you can expect that your reader will get the story. But will the reader feel the story, experience the story, love/hate the characters according to the story line... and live the story?

To instill life and authentic emotion into your story write a larger-than-life version of it. Show the action in exaggeration through the vision, hearing, smell, touch and taste of your characters. Put the reader in the middle of the action so they feel each punch as your hero is jumped from behind, so they smell the gagging scent of the rotting food in the filthy kitchen of your villain, so they hear the blood-curdling screams in the middle of the night.

Once you've written your "over-the-top" version, read it aloud several times--each time with a pen in hand. During each reading, use the pen like fine sand paper to slowly smooth the rough edges and to tone down the emotions of your story. Digest each sentence thoroughly, tweaking the images you are drawing with your words until emotions flow between well-balanced highs and lows in the vivid story that remains.