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Techniques for adding emotion: using other “Voices” in your scene

I love to watch people. Especially in an airport. Yes, I admit I compare myself to others (it’s a woman thing, I think), and I discovered that it’s a great way to reveal the emotional landscape of a character.   See, we often project how we feel in how we might describe a character. Consider this description from the POV of our test subject, Darla, a woman who is afraid to fly. She sees this woman in the gate area:  Across from her, a woman’s sandaled foot tapped to unheard music, her eyes closed, her hand draped over her carryon bag. In her other hand, an empty coffee cup from Starbucks – had she passed a Starbucks on the way in? — as if she’d started her morning early. Sure, fatigue […]

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My Book Therapy Chapter Checklist

Quick Skills: Scene Creation Checklist

I thought it might be helpful if I posted the Scene Creation Steps  you could use when crafting a chapter. If you’ve been following the blog for the past month, we’ve addressed each of these sections/elements in the blogs. Part One Keeping Scene Momentum: Character Journal Ask the following questions: 1. What did you think about what just happened? 2. What are your choices? 3. What will you do next, and why? 4. What is the worst thing that could happen to you right now? 5. And, if it’s a romance –how do you feel about this person?  What do you fear happening emotionally?   Part Two Create Scene Tension Scene Tension Equation: Sympathetic Character + Stakes + Goals + Obstacles + Fear of Failure. Step 1: Determine your Action Objectives […]

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My Book Therapy Chapter Checklist

Quick Skills: How to Build Scene Tension

I just finished book 2 of the Hunger Games series, Catching Fire. Excuse me while I go pick up book 3 and spend the day ignoring my to-do list. This series is a lesson in how to create fabulous tension. Not only is the story premise powerful, but every chapter has that “can’t put down” quality. Why? TENSION on every page (as the Master Donald Maas would say!) But what is tension. Recently, I read approximately 1,768,639 contest entries. Okay, not quite that many, but it felt like it. And very few really wove real tension into their story. Obstacles and Activity are not Tension. Tension is a combination of a Sympathetic Character + Stakes + Goals + Obstacles + Fear of Failure. If any of these are missing, we don’t […]

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Conversations: What is Scene Tension?

“Happy Mother’s Day, Sally,” I said, while holding a plate of basil mashed potatoes and beef medallions. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on that broccoli salad – the house specialty – and eyed it as another patron of the Sunday Brunch dived in. Sally looked up as she spooned smoked salmon onto her plate. “Hello.” She glanced behind me, and I saw one of her children, the six year old, heading into the buffet line. “How’s the writing going?” “Good,” she said as she reached around me, handing him a plate. “Don’t spill.” She stepped out of line. “I don’t know if we can meet tomorrow. I have a school field trip.” “No problem, I said, we’re just going to talk about Scene Structure.” She made a face. […]

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