One More Hurdle…

Last week I received feedback from my editor on my novelette The Faerie Key. Overall it was positive, but she did say that there is one aspect of my storytelling that needs work: revealing character emotion. As far as I can see, it’s the part of my craft that needs the most polishing.

I started revisions on The Faerie Key, her words in mind. And Saturday I took a walk on the nature trail behind my house, sat on a bench and watched the robins peck and the squirrels scurry and thought about the heart of this story. And though it’s only a short work, it has a lot of heart. I just need to find the way to get the reader to experience the emotional depth this story is capable of.

And that means I need to grow as a writer.

So I’ve decided to put self-publishing on hold until the fall and spend the summer honing my craft, digging deeper than I’ve ever gone before, connecting with my characters on an emotional level and writing stories that readers can truly lose themselves in. Because I want readers to be swept up in my stories. I want readers to be emotionally satisfied by a story, but also itching to read the next one.

I spent my twenties honing my skills as a journalistic writer. And that practice taught me how to engage a reader, how to put words together to craft engaging sentences, how to balance quotes with exposition, how to research and incorporate that research into my work. And now my focus has shifted to writing fiction—because this is my dream. And I don’t want to just do it. I want to do it really well.

So a new quest for this summer: Lots and lots of intensive study and practice in the emotional aspect of storytelling. I’ve gathered a list of craft books to help me with the subject, and I’ve been combing the Web looking for articles (this one was especially helpful). Hopefully all of that reading, combined with some intense work on my stories, takes my work to the places I know it can go.

I also plan to work on perfecting my plotting process so my stories don’t stall out in the second act. Hopefully, come September, I will have mastered the art of tugging a reader’s heart strings—and the art of plotting.

And then, world, prepare for some serious story.

ROW80 check-in:

Writing: Wrote 5,823 words in Winter Faerie, a novella-length retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and 2,453 words in The Dryad’s Dilemma, which was supposed to be a short story but…well…wants to be a whole lot more. (A total of 8,276 new words.) Also revised two chapters in The Faerie Key.

Reading: Continued reading Story Engineering by Larry Brooks and How I Sold 80,000 Books: Book Marketing for Authors by Alinka Rutkowska. I’m also working my way through two short story anthologies, The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance 2, edited by Trisha Telep, and Once Upon a Curse, a collection of 17 dark faerie tales that includes one by one of my favorite authors, Yasmine Galenorn (I haven’t gotten to her story yet, though).

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? What part of writing comes the easiest to you? The hardest?

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13 thoughts on “One More Hurdle…

  1. Don’t get discouraged. Just keep at it. My biggest issue is “show” don’t “tell”. I get excited and rush through that first draft. I have to learn to slow down. Emotion can be tricky. There’s a fine line between emotion and melodrama. I’ve walked that line with a toe over more than once.

    • I’m working on a similar issue. I get so caught up moving the plot forward that I forget to slow the story down and really be present with my characters. I feel excited, though, about this new plan–like I’m running a race, adrenaline pumping through my veins!

  2. You may want to peek over at Shan Jeniah’s page for some of her short pieces. Shan does a good job with “going deeper”, especially with her Kifo Island stories. She also has a list of books that she can recommend for that sort of development. That said, I find that it’s more of a matter of really ‘living’ in your characters’ heads for a while. See things as they do… the emotion comes naturally that way

  3. I don’t know about the easiest, but the hardest thing for me in writing is storytelling. I can slather info all I want and construct a story with characters and plot, but it means nothing if the reader doesn’t feel invested in what I’m trying to tell. Recently, I decided to scrap a series because writing the stories felt too much like info-dumping. I didn’t feel like I was telling a story.

    • That whole show-versus-tell thing sounds a lot simpler than it actually is. Even after all these years I find myself slipping into “tell” mode on occasion. Generally with first drafts I allow myself to do as much info-dumping as I need to–and then I cut mercilessly in later drafts.

      I recently wrote a novella that had a really complex backstory, and I ended up cutting most of it to simplify the story. I had saga-length backstory in a 30K-word novella, and that just didn’t work. So I understand where you’re coming from!

  4. I think getting the right emotional ring is one of the toughest aspects of writing fiction. Deep POV is one way to get it in, but keeping it fresh and not melodramatic is still tricky. Margie Lawson’s Empowering Character Emotions workshop helped me a lot. In any case, good luck!

    • Thanks, Jennette! I just ordered a few books on Amazon that I hope will help with this aspect of my writing. Thanks also for the recommendation. I just took a peek at Lawson’s workshop and it sounds like what I’m looking for.

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