Emotive Writing: One More Time with Feeling

Movies have music.  TV has directors. Artists have color and texture. What do writers have to create the perfect mood for a scene?

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Words.

Jan exited the front door of her house, headed down the sidewalk and entered the waiting vehicle with driver.  They drove down the street and around the corner and introduced the car to the Mack Truck parked in the road. Death came.

Um…okay. That is a facts only account.  How can we spice it up?  Let’s try adding some power verbs.

 2130922569_1e01da2b88 Jan slammed the front door of her house, bolted down the sidewalk and jumped into the waiting vehicle with driver.  They sped down the street and around the corner and smashed the car into the Mack Truck parked in the road. Death ensued.

Hmm, better.  How about some impact in our nouns?

Jan slammed the screen door of her home, bolted down the cobblestone path and jumped into the waiting Porsche with her boyfriend.  They sped down Maplewood and around the cul-de-sac and smashed the classic sports car into the Mack Truck parked in the suburban neighborhood. Death ensued.

Well, those are great word choices, but do you have a nagging impression that something is still missing?  If so, you are right on the money.  There is no emotion in the paragraph.

Emotion is a writer’s ticket to moving stories from newsprint to novel, from flat and bland to staggering depth.

Many writers struggle with emotion in writing.  They lack an intimate connection with the drama of the scene.  I want to demonstrate how emotion can change a scene.

3271754319_859a4d60f3Let’s take our improved scene from above and play around with the emotions.  See if you can identify the emotion evoked in each rewrite.  Then practice in your own works of art.

Screaming at her father, Jan slammed the screen door of her home, bolted down the cobblestone path and jumped into the waiting Porsche with her boyfriend.

“Get me out of here! I hate him!” She growled.

Jimmy smirked. It worked. He had succeeded in driving a wedge between Jan and her father. He shoved the gas pedal to the floor.

They sped down Maplewood and around the cul-de-sac. Scanning her long tanned legs, Jim’s gaze made its way slowly up to her face.  Perfection!  She was his possession now.  Dear Daddy was out of the picture, finally.

“JIM!” Jan screamed. He jerked his attention to the road just before he smashed the classic sports car into the Mack Truck parked in the suburban neighborhood.

“I knew you’d be the death of me,” he gurgled through blood soaked teeth as he watched Jan’s life seep into the concrete.

What did you feel? Disgust? Anger? Justice? Confused? Frustrated? This was an exaggerated example, butminor changes can evoke emotion.   Now, let’s play with the feeling de jour.

“Bye, Daddy, see you soon!” Jan slammed the screen door of her home, bolted down the cobblestone path and jumped into the waiting Porsche with her boyfriend.

Leaning over the console, Jimmy gently embraced her and kissed her lips, gazing into her eyes.  Heat spread through her skin at his touch.

“Are you nervous?” His voice was tender as he stroked her cheek.

“A little,” butterflies wrestled in her stomach. “But I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you, Jimmy.”

He kissed her again, then started the engine to take them into their future together.  He laced his fingers through hers as they sped down Maplewood and around the cul-de-sac.

She leaned over and nestled into his shoulder, he was her soon-to-be-husband and the love of her life. He closed his eyes and planted a kiss on the top of her head.

“Jim!” she screamed. He jerked up just as he smashed the classic sports car into the Mack Truck parked in the suburban neighborhood.

The life they would never have flashed through her mind and she stretched a trembling blood-drenched hand to touch his cheek one last time.  They entered eternity, forever together.

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Emotion plays a huge role in telling the whole story, if we had changed our verbs in this example, we could have really created a softer, more romantic scene, especially with a slower more lyrical pace. Let’s try it one more time with a different feeling.

“Jimmy!” Jan squealed and slammed the screen door of her home, bolted down the cobblestone path and jumped into the waiting Porsche with her boyfriend.

“How’s my girl?” His eyes twinkled with mischief.

“I can’t wait to get to the beach! Party!” Jan reached down and pressed the button so the convertible top would roll back. She threw her face toward the sun and raised her arms.  Jim punched the stereo and Nicki Minaj blared into the blue sky.

Laughing and slapping playfully at each other to the booming base beat, they sped down Maplewood and around the cul-de-sac.

Jan sang and bounced along with the rap song. She rolled her shoulders and sent a wave through her arm to Jimmy’s bicep.  He bobbed his head to the beat and watched Jan maneuver through several crump moves.

Blinking away the flare of sunlight reflecting from something enormous in the road in front of them, they smashed the classic sports car into the Mack Truck parked in the suburban neighborhood.

A blood covered beach ball bounced down the street and the mangled teens flew from the car and skidded across the pavement. Nicki Manaj “Till the World Ends” vibrated in the puddles of oil, gasoline, and blood.

6768927805_61c04d9a26Okay, well happy death is not exactly easy, but you get the idea.  So jump into your WIP’s and rewrite it one more time, with feeling!

Try your hand at creating a different mood for the scene above in the comment section below, or just leave a helpful hint that you have learned about creating the right mood in a scene.

 

 

SunglassesLaDonna Cole loves to write fantasy/fiction, songs, and poetry. You can read samples of her work on her author pageAmazon_logo-8.

Or at www.HeartworkVillage.com,

immortalportals@wordpress.com,  or connect at

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Miraculous Monday: Money from Heaven

Heaven Spills

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There was no money.

The cupboard gaped, bare. Rice giblets glued to syrup drippings clung to the corner and an old can of water chestnuts remained to witness the emptiness. Company on the way, she knew she had to buy groceries.

She got in the car and prayed it would start. Turning the key, she sighed when the engine sputtered to life. She pulled onto the highway with a prayer on her lips. “You will provide.” All the sermons about trusting, believing, and miracles paraded through her head. “You are the provider.”

She slowed as a stop sign drew near and eased the old car to a halt. Other cars took their turn, then she pressed the pedal and pressed the heavens. “You will provide.”

Before she could pick up much speed something fell from the sky and plastered against the windshield. It was a $20 bill. She pulled over, got out, and picked up the bill, turning it over in her hand. Jaw dropped, her attention was drawn by another bill flitting down and landing beside her.

She looked up. Bills rained down on the road. She rushed to gather them up, wondering why the other cars weren’t stopping. Gathering all the money, she cast glances into the sky, wondering where this money spilled from.

She completed her grocery trip and had enough left to pay a bill. She will never forget the day money spilled from heaven.

Career Killers

The holidays are tucked away for another year, we have survived the family gatherings, company parties, and our own inability to refrain from the decadent food stuffs.  Now, I’d like to help you survive in your career.

Writing is a business with the author at the center and just like any other business can be enhanced or broken by the CEO.   You as the author are the CEO of your business and your career swings on your decisions and actions.

With a well-kept secret degree in Organizational Management and a Nursing Specialty in Psychiatric Behavior and a writer by choice, I am in a unique position to give you some pointers on how to conduct yourself as a professional and bring life to your business of writing.

Watch out for these three career killing characters.

Self-fulfilling Sally

Dear Sally is an amazing writer, but she doesn’t know it.  She struggles with self-image and sees everyone as better, brighter, more polished. Her peers have poured praise into her, and she loves it, but deep inside, Sally knows it isn’t true.  She works hard at writing and has some amazing stories under her belt, but Sally won’t move forward.  She is stuck.  She may send something off to an agent or publisher, but something is always wrong with it, ensuring the self-fulfilling prophecy of rejection.  She is disgruntled and overly sensitive, and undermines her own credibility, setting herself up for failure.

Be aware of your own self sabotaging behaviors.  If the same outcomes repeatedly happen to you, take an inventory.  Make a list of behaviors that you may be rehashing and actively seek solutions to rid yourself of them.

Unprofessional Ursula

The life of the party, the class clown, or the easy breezy Ursula is the girl everyone wants for a friend.  She is funny, witty, and blast for girls’ night out.  With a ready quip, she keeps groups from becoming too intense. But Ursula can really bend a phrase and speckle it with interjections that aren’t appropriate for business conversation.  She types her email responses in all caps screaming at her readers.  She speaks/reacts before she thinks and puts words into the internet ether that she can’t bring back. If you follow her blog or Facebook account you will be inundated with her constant complaints of this person or that person or how she has been mistreated here or there. All those typed words, all of those status updates and blogs are read by friends and business acquaintances and they work to undermine her credibility and professional image.

Keep this mantra in your head.

“Don’t type it, post it, or say it until the emotion has faded.”

Another good mantra is

“Respond, don’t react!”

Even the most reasonable of us can be tempted to rattle off a response in an emotional knee-jerk reaction.  Make a habit of stepping away, pulling your hands away from the keyboard and not falling into the unprofessional trap of public ranting.  Spoken/Posted words that you can’t retract will crash your professional image if you aren’t careful.

Codependent Carl

Carl is a classic rescuer.  He doesn’t know it.  He thinks he is helping, assisting, teaching, or just being a good guy.  He will constantly go above and beyond the call of duty to win the praise and gratitude of his coworkers and friends. A People Pleaser with a capital “P,” Carl loves to be the hero and come up with fantastic and creative solutions to the group’s problems.  All is fine and well until his co-workers don’t respond to his helpfulness in the way he expected.  Then Codependent Carl crashes into a mess of “I don’t understand, I was just trying to help! I did it all for them! How can they treat me that way?”  It is a cycle that merry-go-rounds throughout Carl’s life, because he doesn’t know his behavior is codependent.

Whether you collaborate in a blog like the Blue Monkeys or coauthor a book, or manage a team of editors, proofreaders and betas, you are going to come across codependent behavior.  Maybe it is you. Maybe it is Ursula or Sally, but at some point it is going to be crucial that you recognize the codependent cycle and step off the merry-go-round.

Key emotions will flag that you have been sucked into a codependent cycle.

Need to Please:  an intense need for affirmation leads to over and above behaviors with a secondary gain of acceptance. The difference between an exceptionally productive employee and a codependent personality lies in the secondary gain.  Does the outcome equally benefit the entire group or mostly bring acclaim to the employee.

Guilt: even though you did not appreciate what your coworker did, you now feel guilty for stating your opinion.  A codependent personality cannot take “no” for an answer.  Anytime constraints are placed on their wonderful idea, they will have a meltdown.  Accusations, innuendo, and right out name calling will commence.

Shifting Loyalties:  Factions may emerge; this side against that side.  That is the greatest indicator that your team is about to blow up and take your career down the tubes. Stop the tidal rush to divide into sides.  Begin peace making speech. “There are no bad guys here.” “Everyone’s opinion matters.” “We can agree to disagree.” The best one I’ve found. “You are right. Let’s step back and take another look.”

Break the Cycle

 

Recognize the behaviors and step out of the cycle.  Prevent emotional hostages from being taken by closing down the rant asap.  Don’t apologize for having a contradicting opinion. You are allowed to voice an opinion with firm and polite conviction.

Step out of the cycle at any point to break the chain.

 

Managing a business can be time consuming and energy draining, especially for creative types. You have the power to make your career as a writer or break it.  Keep a watchful eye out for Self-fulfilling Sally, Unprofessional Ursula, and Codependent Carl and you will be on your way to managing a successful writing career.

What other issues do you see as potential career killer?  Share with us your insights on how to keep them out of our professional lives.

(Previously published on Read Write Muse’s former site.)

La

 

LaDonna Cole RN CM, CART, is a Registered Psychiatric Nurse and Care Manager, she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management from Covenant College and Nursing Degree from Midwestern State University.  Over the years she has Coordinated and Managed several fine arts programs, music departments, and nonprofit organization staff.  She currently resides in Tennessee and writes fiction as a second job to her Nursing Care Manager position.

Miraculous Monday: You won’t believe what this mother did for her daughter.

For each of the next five weeks, I am going to share a story with you of something truly miraculous. These stories are based on true happenings. The names have been changed and the details altered, but the facts remain the same. I hope you enjoy Miraculous Mondays here at Immortal Portals.


fturmog / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The diagnosis was bleak.

Barely five years old, she lay in the hospital bed unresponsive. Her tiny face splotched and beaded with sweat. The fever raged and curled her neck back in an unholy spasm, like a demon possessed her body and writhed within. Thin emaciated legs sprawled. Arms, poked and prodded, were tethered to fluid bags. Her tiny chest rose and fell in shallow pants as she fought a hopeless battle.

I wanted to scream.

My first born lay stricken with spinal meningitis in Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Hospital. Nurses, nuns, and doctors marched through the room and shook their heads in defeat. I could see despair puddle on the floor around the bed.

I clenched my jaw.

The primary physician clasped my husband’s shoulder and escorted him from the room. When the last nurse exited, I crumpled onto the chair beside the bed and enfolded my baby’s hand into mine.  No words would come. My eyes pricked, pressure building, but I couldn’t spill anymore tears. Anger grew beneath my breast bone with every back pat and sad face that came to visit.

I turned the damp cloth over and adjusted it to my daughter’s forehead. Her red cheek burned my fingers. I trembled, rage barely checked.

“Meryl, why don’t you take a break. I’ll stay with her?” my sister-in-law whispered over my shoulder. I felt her pity pat and jumped from my chair.

“Yeah, okay.” I couldn’t listen to anymore sympathy words. I dashed out of the room, through the hall, and down the stairs . Bursting through the front door, I gulped cool December air and ran to the lake.

Swans dove in and out of the water. Diamonds trickled down their pristine feathers as they preened and glided over the surface of the dark mirror. I didn’t even know how to pray anymore. All my words were spent, my tears dried up in the broiling madness of my spirit.

I stared into the overcast sky. Where are you? You told me she had a purpose. You gifted her with incredible talent and abundant intelligence. Where is your purpose, now? I’ve heard her, when she didn’t know I was listening. She sings to you. She worships when no one is looking. She talks to you from her hiding place in the climbing tree. Where are you? Now that she needs you.

Silence rained down with droplets of mist. I put the swans behind me and made my way back to the hospital room. As I turned the corner, I heard my husband’s voice. He was singing.

“…just to rest upon his promise. Just to know, thus saith the Lord. Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him. How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er.  Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus. Oh, for faith to trust him more.”

He turned when I stepped into the door. Tears streamed down his face. My heart stopped.

“Meryl, come sit here.”

Numb and weak, I stumbled over to the bedside, my eyes latched on my daughter’s chest. There, it moved, she lives. Shaking, I lowered myself into the chair he vacated. He knelt down in front of me and took my hands.

“The doctor says we need to prepare ourselves. She isn’t going to make it, hon. She just has a few hours left. The pastor has come to console us.”

His voice droned on, but I couldn’t hear over the roar in my head. A man in a cheap suit and cheaper toupee stood in the corner. No. No. No. I jumped up, and the chair tilted and slammed to the floor behind me.

“Stop it!” My voice rose in defiance. “Get out!”

“Honey—”

“Get out, get out, get out! Take your faithless sorrow out of here now! She is going to live and I don’t want another soul to walk through that door unless they are willing to believe it. GET OUT!”

They hurried from the room and I turned my head to the ceiling. “I won’t lose her! She is going to be healed, completely and totally! I bind this sickness in the name of Jesus. She will live and not die.”

I looked down at my daughter. Her eyes were open. She smiled at me and slowly drifted back to sleep. It was all the confirmation I needed. She was going to live and it didn’t matter who I had to throw out of her room. I would surround her in determined faith. There would be no sorrow in this room while we were here.

Over the next few days, she got stronger. The fever broke, she sat up and watched the swans swim across the lake. She giggled at the nuns and called them penguins. The IV came out. She ate and held it down. The room flooded with gifts and flowers and well wishes. People from all over the hospital came to visit the miracle child and the mom who would not let go.

She lives today. Still singing. Still worshiping. Still believing for her own children.

Do you believe in miracles? Why or Why not?

Share this post with your friends and leave a comment below to let us know you stopped by.

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