Quick-Tip Tuesday: Writing With Emotion

Sometimes we writers overthink our work (and in that spirit, this will be a brief post). We try to create spectacular worlds and amazing magic systems and plots filled with surprises and twists. And all of that is great. When I read, I love narrative complexity, rich settings, and remarkable magic.

But I read for emotion. I read, as do so many, because I want to delve into the internal lives of compelling characters. Humans are natural voyeurs and eavesdroppers. We are curious about other people, sometimes to a disturbing degree. (See: Kardashian, Kim) One of the great allures of reading, I believe, is the chance not only to listen to and watch characters, but also to have access to their thoughts and emotions.

I bring this up because I have noticed in working with students and less experienced writers, a tendency to shy away from exploring the emotions of […]

Continue reading Quick-Tip Tuesday: Writing With Emotion

On Writing: Solving Writing Problems with Point of View

I have written about point of view many times before. A couple of years ago I did a whole series of posts on it, and one of my “Creative Intersections” posts earlier this year dealt with POV as it related to worldbuilding.

But here I am again writing about POV, and there is a reason for this. During the course of the summer, I attended several conventions, and I also taught a writers’ workshop up in Calgary. And it seemed that at every turn I would bring one writing issue or another back to POV. It happened so often, that I began to rethink one of my own foundational beliefs about writing. I have said for years that I believe character to be the single most important element of successful storytelling. I realize now that this is not quite true. To my mind, the most important element of storytelling is […]

Continue reading On Writing: Solving Writing Problems with Point of View

Grist For the Mill: Emotion and Creativity

As you read this, I am driving home from New York City having just dropped off my daughter at NYU. She’s a freshman this year, so all of this is pretty new to me. The last-minute shopping, the packing, the move-in day and orientation and getting settled. The bills — oh my GOD the bills. And underlying all of it, the emotions that come with seeing my eldest child go off to college: excitement on her behalf, sadness at the thought of her leaving home, happiness at the thought of her leaving home (yeah, some of these are pretty mixed), trepidation at all that she has to face in the coming years — we’ve been taking care of her for so long, and while she is bright and mature and confident, is she ready? I am more aware than I have ever been of my age, of the swiftness with […]

Continue reading Grist For the Mill: Emotion and Creativity

The Elf in the Kitchen

Once upon a time, I read a book about an ordinary woman in everyday contemporary society who wakes up to find an elf in her kitchen. She says, “Hey, what are you?” and he says, “Me? I’m an elf.” They proceed to have coffee and chit-chat, as if nothing at all is out of the ordinary.

Now, there’s a fantasy novel where that could happen — where people regularly confront the supernatural, where they have no understanding of boundaries in their natural history, where the extraordinary is absolutely ordinary.

But there was nothing about this book that made me believe that the kitchen-owner lived in such a world. Every aspect of her world was presented as identical to the one that I live in. And I can tell you that if an elf showed up in my kitchen — be he a tall, glamorous, Tolkien-ish elf, or a small, […]

Continue reading The Elf in the Kitchen

On Body Language

Body language, also known as nonverbal communication, is an enormous part of how we interpret the people we interact with. Often it contributes to 60 or 65% of everyday interpersonal communication.* It includes facial expressions, posture, gestures, and physical movement. Some we can consciously control and try to use to our advantage (we’ve all heard not to cross our arms at an interview as it makes us seem stand-offish and unsure/uncomfortable) others are controlled by our limbic system and our reactions are subconscious. We are constantly using our body to communicate–even when we attempt not to, the lack of gesticulation as we attempt to control our bodies is, in fact, a tell of its own.

So if body language is such a huge part of communication, why is it in our writing we often fall back on the same, very simple expressions and gestures such as a smile or a […]

Continue reading On Body Language