Sunday, October 12, 2008

Of Engines and Emotions

I’m happy to report that I’ve made some progress on getting that engine of creativity going to get this revision off the ground. See the end of the previous blog if you don’t know what I’m talking about. My new version of the story is starting to come together. I’m discovering effective and subtle ways to introduce readers to important things that have gone before. And so far, close to nine thousand words into it, I haven’t spun a single scene of straight back story.

As I’ve mentioned before, I first began getting a handle how to deal with back story when I read Susan May Warren’s Reclaiming Nick two summers ago. So it was a special treat for me to be able to study under Susan for two classes at the conference last month. One was about how to create a “story world” for your readers, and the other was on how to show a character experiencing emotion rather than just naming the emotion. As the introduction to the course said, “Readers don’t want to be told what to think and feel. They want to discover the story along with the characters.”

I learned there are four levels of showing emotion. The easiest is simply to state it. Picture, for example, a gal discovering a large spider in her bathroom sink. She was terrified. A deeper level is to state the emotion along with an action: She jumped back in fear. A third is to use action only and not name the emotion at all: She screamed and slammed the door. The fourth is a little more difficult, and I’ve been too busy working on my story to figure out a good example of how to expand on the emotion with a metaphor.

And yes, I got the Nick and Rafe books of the Noble Legacy series signed (one of my daughters has read them and the other will be soon) as well as the newest one I bought about their sister Stephanie, which I’m reading now. And after class I got my picture taken with Susie.


Harvestmom said...

How about "she screamed and ran from the bathroom - a shiver ran up her spine and tears came down her cheeks....never had she seen anything that big INSIDE HER HOME...!" Ha ha - guess I should know how to describe THAT experience :-)

Esther said...

You should know--that's for sure, but I thought I did a pretty good job for not having been there--smile.