|Credit: Michael Pohl|
There’s nothing to writing.
and open a vein.
Last Wednesday morning after I hit snooze about three times, I came awake with a revelation—I have become my character.
When I began my current work-in-progress (WIP), my character struggled with financial hardships. About that time, my husband lost his job.
My character discovered a maintenance issue in her place of business. We had a major leak in our bedroom. Then we found another one in our back entry area.
When my character needed hope, God provided me with a book contract.
I’m editing the Black Moment where the character’s daughter is rushed to the ER. Three weeks ago my mother was taken to the ER by ambulance. Last week she was admitted to the hospital again for more testing for her heart. Next Friday, she will have a triple bypass.
The waiting, the worrying that Josie is feeling—I get that.
Writing is about creating relationships with your readers, allowing them to feel the same character emotions as they turn the pages.
In order to create those emotions, you have to sacrifice a part of yourself—become vulnerable on the page.
Before you write a scene, think about the emotion you want the character to feel, then think back to a time when you had a similar experience or emotion. Now bleed how you felt onto the page.
Tuesday night when I visited my mom in the hospital, I smiled and laughed because I didn’t want to stress her out by the worry bouncing around inside my head. When I came home, I channeled those emotions into my scene and wrote this:
Birthdays were supposed to be celebrations, not spent fighting to breathe in a hospital room painted the color of chicken soup.
Children’s laughter should be bouncing off the walls instead of beeping monitors and hissing tubes. The scent of sulphur from extinguished birthday candles and the sweetness of frosting should be lingering in the air. Not the stench of antiseptic that had become as familiar as Josie’s own shampoo.
Her gaze fixated on Hannah’s closed eyes, memorizing every curve and line of her face. Her chest rose and fell in a peaceful rhythm. Too peaceful. Too final.
Please, God, one more birthday . . .
She’d pray that prayer every day for the rest of her life if necessary.
Losing her only child would surely shred her heart beyond repair. Hannah was a piece of her. A small representation of the good in Josie’s life. She’d lost so many people already. Couldn’t He spare her daughter?
She swiped at the tears crowding her eyes, swallowing back the boulder-sized lump that seemed to be a constant part of her anatomy. Hope appeared to be the large tanker in the middle of the ocean and she resided on the island of despair with rescue being a stranger.
When Nick walked away, he took another piece of her heart with him. Would he return? The voice inside her head screamed for him to stay. She couldn’t bear to be alone anymore, to lose someone else she loved. Instead, she told him not to bother coming back.
Your turn: How do you write emotion? Do you find it a challenge? What suggestions do you have to offer?