Details, Details, Details!

Details create emotion —the physical setting, the physical sensations, the choice of words, the paragraph length and flow all contribute to the emotion displayed on the page. Short, choppy sentences tend to create tension (our breath is coming fast, as if we are running). Long, flowing paragraphs with an abundance of detail, slow the movement down and give the reader a rest. Here are some of the things you might consider adding to your work: Physical setting (riding in the car, watching the night flash by outside the grimy window). Use of the five senses—sound, feeling, smell, taste, and sight. Physical sensations—the rocking of a train causing nausea or the cold air coming through the car window onto your cheek. Word choice.  Use the best descriptive...

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Conveying Character Emotions

Every writer has been admonished to show not tell. But how do we do that? Instead of telling the reader your character is uneasy, consider the body language. You might use a physical description such as shaking one’s head, crossing and uncrossing the arms or legs, shifting in one’s chair, or slipping hands into pockets. You might also give an internal sensation such as your character experiencing a slight chill or shiver, the hair lifting on her neck, or a quiver in the stomach.  Just remember, in order to create a strong reader reaction to the emotion, you must also show what triggers the feeling. All of these cues were taken from The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. I purchased...

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Introducing Your Characters

Authors often forget their manners when a new character enters the scene. The reader wants a brief introduction. We don’t need long, entangled descriptive paragraphs, just a little something to give us a quick visual. Here is an example: Samuel pulled up his breeches, which had a habit of slipping below his protruding belly. He hitched them high above his waistline, as if to give them plenty of sliding room. (The Doctor’s Lady, by Jody Hedlund) We all know someone who habitually pulls up his trousers and get an image in our mind of what the character looks like—an introduction. Here’s another example where the author introduces a new character, mirroring information about another: By the time Hart showed up, I’d finished my wine as well as the contents of the...

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Ellipsis! … Do you really need it?

Using an ellipsis can be tricky.  I’m not a fan of any type of punctuation that is used too much (think semi-colon or colon) but the ellipsis seems to be something I often must edit from a manuscript. The most common way authors use an ellipsis is to indicate that the speaker has paused or is searching for his thoughts. This works, but I often find that writers use the same thing over and over on the page until I think that if I see one more ellipsis…I just might throw the manuscript to the floor. I would recommend that you save your ellipses for important moments. Times when you really need or want to slow the dialogue down. I’d like to mention one more thing…. If your ellipsis ends your sentence, you need three dots and a period for a total of four dots. If...

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