Tag Archive - Online courses

Every Novel Scene Should Contain a Death

I hope that catchy title intrigues you. I’ll explain.

I’ve launched my new online course Emotional Mastery for Fiction Writers, and it goes deep into both character and reader emotion.

One very important emotional aspect of a novel is character change. But I bet you haven’t thought of change as a kind of death.

Author and writing instructor James Scott Bell says every scene should contain a death. What does he mean? He’s not talking only about literal death, which might be the case in a suspense/thriller or murder mystery. He means we want our POV character to change by the end of every scene in some small or large way.

In that moment, something should have died: a dream, an opinion, a relationship, a hope, an assumption, a fear or worry … and so on.  Continue Reading…

Mastering Emotion a Must for Fiction Writers

One of the biggest complaints I hear from literary agents is the manuscripts they read fail to move them.

They read terrific plots, steamy romance, and venture into creative sci-fi worlds and they feel nothing. Blah. Boring.

The stories are not engaging them. They are not responding emotionally.

That’s a bad thing. And when your readers feel this way, when they dig into your novel, that’s bad too.

But here’s the thing: getting readers to not only feel something but feel complex emotions, specifically triggered by a writer, takes real talent on that writer’s part. It takes mastery. Continue Reading…

Action That Evokes Emotion in Your Readers

Have you ever read a passage in a novel that made you cry? Stirred up indignation? Real terror? I am often moved by passages I read in both fiction and nonfiction. Masterful writers can wrench emotional reaction from me even with random passages.

We’re told to get readers to bond with our protagonist within the first couple of pages, something few writers can do well. Yes, we might get readers interested in our characters and even riveted by their personalities and actions in the opening scenes, but do we truly care for them? Depending on your genre and story, you might not want readers to care for your protagonist all that much (at the start).

As we grow attached to characters throughout the reading of a great novel, we care more about them. And that makes it easier for emotion to be evoked in us. All along the way, a writer must carefully manipulate readers’ emotion, in a deliberate fashion, to try to get them to feel what he wants them to feel. Continue Reading…

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