I genuinely like to help and encourage writers. It’s one of my most favorite things to do–besides writing and playing tennis. For a long time I didn’t want to start a blog because I thought I’d have to brag about me and how awesome my writing is. Seriously? No way. Bleh!
My only motivator for starting this blog was knowing I could help other writers on their journey to publication. I love sharing resources, tips, and people who can help others. I have a RANDOM WRITING RANTS Facebook page where I share links to contests, ideas, and other writerly stuff, too. (Click here to LIKE my page and you’ll receive my feeds at your FB page.) I feel like it’s “my job” to inform writers of the tools that will help them get published.
Today I’m excited to share a book that was recommended by Christa, a friend from my local library writers group. No, I don’t know the authors of the book, and no, I’m not getting paid to market their book. But I believe this book could improve a writer’s skill BIG TIME.
As I plod through my writing journey toward publication I’m continually challenging my skills and working on my craft, searching for ways to improve. One of the MANY things I’ve learned along the way is to show THE EMOTION of my character without naming that emotion.
It’s NOT easy!
So when I found this book I wanted to stand on my living room sofa and do the samba. First, I bought the KINDLE edition, but after I read through the Table of Contents and clicked through the emotions I bought the paperback. I can’t wait until it arrives! I’m certain that it’s the key to helping me write a quicker deep POV. I will have the pages dog-eared in NO TIME. (I’m so excited.)
Let me demonstrate how this book can help.
The book is The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To a Character’s Expression, by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. (Click on the book’s title to go to Amazon.)
Here’s how I’m going to use it, but you might have your own way.
- Write my fast draft–the total book from beginning to end without stopping to edit, research, or change.
- Let it sit for a few weeks.
- When I return to do the first edits I’m going to work on one scene at a time checking for deep pov and emotion.
- Identify the emotion for the scene. Define it.
- Pull up that emotion in this handy book and read through it.
- Show my characters emotion using the tips in the book coupled with my character’s personality. How will she display the physical signs of this emotion? What will her internal sensations be, her mental responses? Has she carried this emotion with her for a long time? Or only a short while?
- The authors of this book recommend the following: “For each scene, identify the emotion you need to show and think in terms of three…what three ways have you reinforced the character’s feeling through verbal and nonverbal communication?”
Here’s something from KELLY’S STORY, one of my wips. Let’s take a look at whether I have three of these. Gulp! Here’s an unedited paragraph:
But first, the emotion: ANXIETY. The protag in this scene is an obstetrics nurse (she takes care of newborns) who is driving home with her family when she comes upon an accident scene and gets out of her car to help. She doesn’t know the victims.
Time slowed. She wanted to breath for him, to make everything better. Tears filled her eyes as she watched him struggle. All she could give him were words. “I’m here. Help is on its way. Hang on. The ambulance is coming.” One second felt like eternity. Breath, keep breathing. She comforted him, reassured him, while fighting tears and praying for God to help him. When his gasping stopped she knew there was nothing more she could do and moved to the back seat again—to the boy.
She bent her body into the car, kneeling next to him. His body lay limp, his head in the middle of the crunched seat, his face nicked with bloodied scratches, his hands curling in at the wrists, balling into tight fists, toward his body, then away from his body—a sign of posturing—a severe brain injury. She bit her lip and placed her fingers on his neck, checking for a pulse, feeling the slow, erratic beats.“Can you hear me?”
Before I edit this I’ll refer to the thesaurus for tips on showing this emotion. Here are a few physical signs taken from the book that show ANXIETY:
Rubbing the back of the neck, wringing one’s hands, twisting a watch or ring, scratching, hands repeatedly rising to touch one’s face, fingering a necklace, rolling one’s shoulders, bouncing a foot, glancing at the clock, phone, or doorway, holding one’s stomach, clutching one’s hands, rocking in place, twisting one’s neck as if sore, biting at the lips or nails, praying, crossing the arms, forming a barrier to others, standing with one arm holding the other at the elbow
Here are examples from the book on what her internal sensations might be:
Restless legs, dizziness, a churning stomach, increased thirst, tingling in one’s limbs, a tightening chest, accelerated breathing, feeling like one’s insides are quivering.
Thinking about worst-case scenarios, self-blame, seeking reassurance from others, time feeling like it’s slowing down, discomfort in close spaces, irrational worries, replaying the events that caused the feeling.
She bent herself into the car, kneeling next to his limp body. His swollen head rested in the middle of the crunched seat. Bloodied scratches covered his face. His hands curled in at the wrists, balling into tight fists, toward his body, then away, toward his body and away again—a sign of posturing—of a severe brain injury.The summer heat engulfed her. She couldn’t breathe. She closed her eyes, mumbling to herself to get a grip. Her hands perspired. She wiped them on her shorts before placing her fingers on the young man’s neck, checking for a pulse. The slow, erratic beats sent her own heartbeats into hyperdrive and once again she felt helpless. If someone didn’t help this man soon he’d die, too. “Can you hear me?” He didn’t move.