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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