A lot of the times that Carrie works with writers, she notices that they are pulling back from the emotion that is happening in the story. Instead of allowing the reader to feel the terror of being kidnapped or the anxiety of moving to a new place or the desperate sorrow of losing a loved one, the writer skims over these emotional times with a simple moment of telling like, “John was sad that his dog died.” Or worse. “The dog died. John went to school.”
These are lost opportunities. They are also places where the story goes flat or in writer speak, “fails to resonate.”
A lot of writers, especially children’s book writers, are kind people and by default they don’t want to hurt their characters or dwell in any negative emotions. They are trying to protect their characters and the readers.
But those good intentions don’t actually help anyone.
The real world has pain. Our stories have pain, too.
We have to learn to deal with hardships. Our characters do, too.
And the emotion of stories, the ups and downs, are the ride that our readers are signing up for. They want to feel with us, be transported into others’ lives.
For example, Harry Potter had hardship after hardship and so did his friends. J.K. Rowling didn’t shy away from the hard emotions and hard times. She’d add in beats, moments of dwelling in those big moments of joy and sorrow. What Harry felt, the reader felt.
The premise of your story needs to do this, too. It has to have an emotional hook that makes you wonder and care right away. Again, think of Harry Potter – the story of the boy who lived, a lonely orphan who must overcome the evil wizard who killed his parents. Just thinking about the premise fills you with thoughts and wonder and worry and so many questions. The emotional stakes are so high.
Dog Tip For Life
Embrace your emotions. Think about what makes you snarl, yelp, wag your tail. Go after the ball. Go after the moments that make you feel good.
Writing Tip of the Pod
Um… again… embrace your emotions. Don’t be afraid to express real emotion. It feels safer to hide your emotion, but passion makes better life and better stories. Be passionate about what you’re writing and about how your living.
The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?
You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.
OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.
Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.
Carrie offers solo writing coach services, but she’s also teaching a Write! Submit! Support! six-month class online via the Writing Barn in Austin. For details about that class, check out this link. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.
The music in this podcast is “Check Them In” by Ema Grace and her site is here. We’re able to use this amazing music, thanks to Ema’s kindness and the Creative Commons.