Mastering Emotion

Anne Frank2

Miss Frank’s quote reminds me of something I think I forget to consider as a writer and while I write.

The emotional side of me; with all its value, memory, and lessons learned. When I remember who I am, what I’m doing, and why, but more importantly, how it makes me feel, it’s easier to remember that emotion is just as important to the story when my characters are having to deal with the same thing.

Now that I’m re-working my novel for the 14th time, I think I’ve finally found my voice. It isn’t an entirely new story but more like the one I had envisioned to begin with but that had lost its way due to rush and the opinion of others.

It (and I) needed reigning in before it was too late and the whole thing raced over a cliff to its doom.

Being hired and finally taking myself off the list of poor, unfortunate souls mired in the world of unemployment and zero income, I’m now able to take my time and really focus on good writing, memorable characters, and a fantasy adventure the reader will hopefully enjoy as much as I am while writing it.

Figuring out the best, brightest, and most succinct way to grab our readers hearts without instead grabbing them by their throats.

Like the mastery of description in writing, invoking emotion is a heavy role for the character on the part of the author, and both need to make it seem as realistic yet touching as possible without sounding (and behaving) maudlin or dopey.

Men are capable of such emotions; just not in as open and expressive a fashion as most women. Sure, men shed tears, but outside a death, the act itself isn’t all that manly to most of us, and it rarely makes positive review when written into a romance novel.

Falling back on my most memorable fictional character for a moment, I’ll share a scene from that novel that, to me, was simply amazing and nailed the emotions aspect through the writing itself.

The male lead was aloof, afraid of giving in to himself and others, and he grew up believing he was born to harm, not love. This left him to push back any emotions that came natural to him as a human and made him believe that regardless of how he felt for the woman or even how often she tried to show him how she felt about him, he just wasn’t bred to think love/relationship was a possibility.

In one scene, the author had him asleep when she enters his room. He senses her there, even in that slumber, and he opens his eyes but isn’t fully awake. Seeing her beautiful face peering at him in what could only be a dream, he lets the fantasy take shape — dreams are safer than reality.

The author seductively made my heart race and cheeks flush as i read how he slid her beneath him and, while gazing down at her with love and longing, began to gently and slowly grind above her skirts. In that moment, he was tender, passionate, and capable of returning the love she so desperately wanted to give and receive in return. It was another side of the Kev we who read about him all knew he was capable of expressing for real.

AND for all the POV arguer’s out there, it didn’t confuse me at all to have her (female lead) offer up some thought about what it was he was doing before he finally awakened fully, got all flustered, and sprang from the bed in embarrassed shock 😀

The point is, it worked all too well to make me wish she hadn’t written it, because now I’ll never get the chance to do the same or something similarly erotic in my own novels.

The point is, though, that it’s up to me to try trumping that moment in my own writing. To effectively learn the art of storytelling through such emotions without it being dialogue, thought, or even memory but in the moment as a painting almost and not just explanation words; without simply typing He thought he was dreaming, so he grabbed her and started to grind.

It wasn’t written matter-of-fact but more like I was inside the leading lady’s head watching the leading man do his thing. I could envision the look in his eyes, the way it felt to have him gently pin her beneath him, and how those eyes and that handsome face gently smoothed as he started to fantasize about making love to her.

I’m not sure, yet, how I feel about thought being injected in such scenes. I’ve read a few novels where this occurs with great frequency while others use it intermittently, but during some crucial scenes that make it disrupt the flow. You know what I mean. Their either meeting for the first time or are at that point in the relationship when the inevitable is to occur, and the scene itself is laced with italics.

He’s doing something to her, she is in italics. He does something else, she is in italics. He starts to touch her there, she is in italics. Or she is constantly thinking . . . about every single move he’s making on her. Sometimes, but not always might be better.

Again, it isn’t everyone’s favorite, but I would rather simply describe what is happening through both characters’ POV: a few paragraphs of him and a few of her; HOW they’re thinking, feeling, wanting, doing, etc.

Dual POV just doesn’t throw me off the way it seems to do most others (of the younger generation of reader).

Like I said, it isn’t easy to work this stuff into a novel, much less make it work. As writers who are looking forward to entertaining our readers, though, it pays to go back over these types of scenes and try a hundred different ways to say the same thing, until you arrive at what sounds best to you and believe your reader will enjoy, too.

This is exactly what I’m doing with my 14th draft, and it’s coming along rather well, I think. A lot more emotional stuff, a lot more explaining using show versus tell and without being too literal, and a lot more slow the hell down and really think about what it is you want to say that can only help to make this manuscript what it needs to be and what I originally set out to create.

*excerpts to come in My Writing

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About RaineBalkera

Aspiring Author of Romance
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