7 Ways to Counteract Writer’s Block

Today’s guest post is by Max Chi.

Most of us writers have experienced writer’s block at one time or another. If you’ve had writer’s block, you’re in good company. Writers from Aristotle to Shakespeare to Mark Twain to Stephen King have gone through it. It’s not just limited to writers: illustrator Ashley Goldberg, photographer Matthias Heiderich, and multidisciplinary artist Aris Moore, among many others, have suffered bouts of creative block.

It can be frustrating, worrying, and frightening all at the same time. You find it hard to come up with ideas for a new project or paths to continuing the work you’ve been doing. You realize you’ve been staring fruitlessly at a blank screen or piece of paper and wasting precious time and energy.

Fortunately, there are ways to avoid getting into this state. Here are some suggestions. Continue Reading…

Evoking Emotions in Readers in a Masterful Way

In this series on masterful writing, we’re now looking at emotion. Masterful showing of emotion, masterful “telling” of emotion, and masterful evocation of emotion.

Perhaps the hardest thing for a writer to do well is to manipulate emotion. I say “manipulate” because one of the definitions of the word is “to operate in a skillful manner.” I am not using the word in its more negative connotations of insidiously controlling or affecting things or people for a harmful purpose.

We writers want to manipulate our characters and our readers. We want to masterfully evoke emotion in our readers because, as Donald Maass says in The Emotional Craft of Fiction, readers don’t just read; they respond.

Masterful writers don’t just show characters emoting and expect readers to feel the same feelings. Every writer should understand that just because a character is afraid or angry, it doesn’t make the reader afraid or angry.

Even if a writer adeptly shows a character feeling emotions, that doesn’t guarantee the reader will feel anything at all.

So it behooves writers to dig into this topic of evoking emotion, which is a slippery animal, to be sure. Continue Reading…

Masterful Telling of Emotion

Today’s guest post is by Nina Schuyler. It continues our look at masterful writing, introducing the element of emotional content in our novels. The craft of not only expressing emotion  in our characters but also evoking emotion in our readers is one of the most important things to master in fiction writing. In this post, Nina Schuyler shows us that telling about emotions can be just as powerful as showing those emotions in your characters.

Early on, when I was young and innocent and studying writing, it was vigorously pounded in my head that I must never ever tell a character’s emotion. T. S. Eliot’s “objective correlative” entered the conversation (events, objects, and actions must stand for or correlate to the desired emotion), along with fiction’s allure, which is to give readers an embodied experience—or as George Saunders tells storytellers, “Go forth and delight!”

But now, having read more, studied more, gotten older, I’ve encountered plenty of published works that tell the emotion. It’s right there, in big letters, winking at me—HE FELT. SHE FEELS—sad, happy, joyful, angry, embarrassed. And I do experience the told emotion. How is this possible? What’s going on?

The magic is in the way the telling is done. Continue Reading…

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