Every morning I get out of bed, pour a cup of coffee, and stumble into my office. I’m not awake. I never am until I’ve got some caffeine in my veins. That’s fine, because it’s precisely the right state in which to write fiction.
For the next half hour, I enter the imaginary world of my novel.
That borderline state between alertness and the dream world is perfect for writing from the heart. Your words come directly from your subconscious mind.
Over the years, I’ve learned not to place any demands on myself in this dreamy creative state. I just start writing, accepting whatever comes, whether it’s part of what I’m working on, or not.
This morning, what came was a new character. She’s funny, charming, and combative. She’s at a wedding, and almost gets into a fight with the bride.
I love her. She has no place in any novel on which I’m working, but that’s also fine. She’s a gift. Be alert to the gifts your heart and subconscious mind give you.
There’s another reason I like writing in a dreamy state: emotion. It’s easier to think and feel as your characters do when you’re in this state. When you share your characters’ thoughts, you engender corresponding emotions in the reader.
Here’s why this is important: your reader wants to experience your book, so emotions SELL.
Thoughts equal emotion: what’s your character thinking?
The erotic novel Fifty Shades Of Grey made its author, E.L. James, into a multi-millionaire in just a few months.
Although I haven’t read the trilogy, judging from excerpts I’ve read, and the reviews, I have a good idea of what’s making the books sell: emotion.
Unlike nonfiction, fiction is all about emotion. Give readers an emotional experience, and your books will sell.
So… how do we arouse emotion, firstly in ourselves, then in readers?
The answer is: your characters’ thoughts.
The more you reveal characters’ thoughts and use deep point of view, the more your readers live your characters’ lives. They share your characters’ emotions.
Pitfall: don’t tell us how your characters feel
Don’t tell us:
- Emily was scared;
- Henry was happy;
- Sandra’s heart was broken… etc.
We’re not going to take your word for it.
SHOW us Emily’s thoughts, as she faces the mugger. She’s married and pregnant. What thoughts go through her mind? She thinks that she’ll never hold her baby. That argument she had with her spouse – she wishes she could take those hurtful words back now. If she dies, she doesn’t want those words to color his last memories of her.
When you show us what a character’s thinking, we forget that we’re reading: we experience your book.
How does your favorite author engender emotion in YOU?
Today, skim through three books in your current novel’s genre. Look for characters’ thoughts. Read carefully, so that you can see the connection between thoughts, and emotion.
Make notes. What tricks do the authors use, to build emotion in readers?
EMOTION – and the ability to arouse it – is central to writing fiction. Understand that, and learn how to do it, and you’ll write books which sell.
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