Daily Writing Tip 75 of 100, Put Your Heart on the Page

For one hundred days, I’m going to post a writing tip each day. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books and I want to do some reading and increased studying of this valuable resource. This will help me keep track of anything I’ve learned, and help motivate me to keep going. If anyone has a favorite tip of their own to add, contact me. I’d love to put it up here.

Today’s tip – Put Your Heart on the Page

Source – What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter

Too many writers avoid their own strongest feelings because they are afraid of them, or because they are afraid of being sentimental. Yet these are the very things that will make beginning work ring true and affect us. Your stories have to matter to you the writer before they can matter to the reader; your story has to affect you, before it can affect us.
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The Exercise

Make a notebook entry on an early childhood event that made you cry or terrified you, or that made you weak with shame or triumphant with revenge. Then write a story about that event. Take us back to those traumatic times, relive them for us through your story in such a way so as to make your experience ours.

The Objective

To learn to identify events in your life that are still capable of making you laugh and cry. If you can capture these emotions and put them on paper, chances are you will also make your readers laugh and cry as well.

It takes courage to do this. When the letters of strong old truth start the fall onto the page, the Resistance wells up and is strong. This must be fought through. This fight is the essence of living a worthwhile life.

Daily Writing Tip 35 of 100, The Quadrangle: Character, Setting, Situation, Emotion

For one hundred days, I’m going to post a writing tip each day. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books and I want to do some reading and increased studying of this valuable resource. This will help me keep track of anything I’ve learned, and help motivate me to keep going. If anyone has a favorite tip of their own to add, contact me. I’d love to put it up here.

Today’s tip – The Quadrangle: Character, Setting, Situation, Emotion

Source – Creating Short Fiction by Damon Knight

quad

This time, let’s say, you’re thinking about an orphan who has found a loaded revolver in a garbage can. That’s an intriguing situation, but you have no idea where to go from there.

Try making a list of four things the orphan might do next. If you write down the first four things you think of, maybe they come out something like this:

  • Hold up a liquor store
  • Kill somebody
  • Kill himself
  • Throw the gun away

Now cross out all four. Think of the fifth solution, the one that is not obvious.

Suppose your fifth solution is:

  • Give it to somebody

All right, to whom dies he give it? Out of the silent half of your mind an image swims up: a woman who is being abused by her husband.

Now you have a sense of what the emotional charge of the story will be. (If you don’t feel any strong emotion about this ending, it’s the wrong one; find a sixth solution, or a seventh.)

I like the idea of throwing out the first four, or more, obvious ideas to try and find the one, true story.

Daily Writing Tip 19 of 100, Writing About Emotion

For one hundred days, I’m going to post a writing tip each day. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books and I want to do some reading and increased studying of this valuable resource. This will help me keep track of anything I’ve learned, and help motivate me to keep going. If anyone has a favorite tip of their own to add, contact me. I’d love to put it up here.

Today’s tip – Writing About Emotion

Source – Creating Character Emotions by Ann Hood

When we copy a writerly voice, we put up a barrier between us and the emotions of our characters. As a result, the readers get filtered versions of emotion instead of real interpretations and an honest and an honest rendering of them.

So my first piece of advice is to write like yourself. until you do that, you will not be able to invoke emotion – and therefore character – effectively.

We have all read stilted prose that seems to be a feeble attempt to copy the latest blockbuster. When asked, the author will answer, “Well that’s what all the editors are looking for. That’s what’s selling nowadays.”

Pretty lame excuse – it’s supposed to be your own blood you are spilling across the page.