Today, help me welcome author Ellis Vidler to Terry's Place. She has a giveaway, so read through to see how to enter to win.
Do you ever shed tears as you write? Not from frustration when something doesn’t work or you realize you have to scrap fifty pages of blood and sweat, but because something you’ve written strikes a chord emotionally? Author Ellis Vidler laughs, cries, and double checks the locks when she writes. She identifies with her characters.
Remember the movie Romancing the Stone? In one of the first scenes, Kathleen Turner sits at her desk in her pajamas, clicking out the last chapter of her novel and weeping into an endless supply of tissues. She’s writing from the heart and feels every word. Turner’s tears may have been slightly exaggerated, but most of us have cried over books and movies or even a tragic or touching picture on the news. Ellis certainly has.
That’s what writers do--aim for the heart. Elmore Leonard said that. If a scene touches someone, it will stick with the reader. Strong emotions create strong memories. That’s why we read, isn’t it? To experience something outside ourselves. The purpose of fiction is to evoke emotion.
So how does one do that? Not by telling the reader it’s a sad situation or that Isobel is heartbroken. No, the writer has to show us, take us into the character’s heart so we feel what she or he is feeling. Create a situation that shows something on a higher plane than we experience daily, an act of courage, generosity, or perhaps sacrifice. If the writer has made us care about a character and we understand what something means to that character, then we’re prepared to share his or her emotions. If we come to know a child and how much she loves her kitten, then see the child cradling the kitten’s dead body, most of us will feel the child’s pain. We don’t have to be told the child is sad or that she’s crying. Actually, telling us would probably lessen what we feel because it puts distance between us and the character. It puts us on the outside.
To show something, the writer must take us inside the character’s head and heart. If she smells a flower, the reader should mentally inhale. If he feels cold steel pressed against his neck, the reader should experience a chill. That’s when a writer is doing her job.
I believe the writer must be emotionally involved in what’s happening. I admit it--I’ve cried over scenes I’ve written. And those are the stories I love most. Whether others will feel the same way is another matter. I can tell you that if I don’t feel it, you won’t either. You must love your characters or at least feel strongly about them. You could loathe her as long as you care deeply. Do you really, really want to see her get her comeuppance? Then show the reader the same things about her that you dislike so. Don’t tell us she’s mean, let us see her trip the elderly man or lie about the teacher’s behavior. Show, don’t tell.
Ellis is giving away a download of Haunting Refrain to one commenter. Winner announced this weekend, so leave your comment and check back to see if you're the lucky one.
Ellis Vidler is the author of Haunting Refrain, romantic suspense, and co-author of The Peeper a suspense novel, with Jim Christopher. Her new romantic suspense, Cold Comfort, is due out this year from Echelon Press. You can find Ellis at http://www.ellisvidler.com or on Facebook and Twitter. Her blog is The Unpredictable Muse.
Image credit: Sad by worradmu