HONING IN ON THE HEART AND AMPLIFYING YOUR EMOTIONAL ARC
by Lauren Heller Kerstein,
When I critique, I often find myself helping authors hone in on the heart and create an emotional arc that is both resonant and relatable. We want to make our readers FEEL.
Here are a few tips to help your readers FEEL all the feels:
PITCH IT: Write a pitch. What is the heart of your story? What is your character’s goal? What is your goal in writing this particular story? What do you want your readers to walk away with? I love this quote from Jodi Picoult’s latest novel: The Book of Two Ways: “Art isn’t what you see. It’s what you remember.” What do you want your readers to remember long after they’ve read your book?
ZOOM IN: Zoom in on emotional moments so that you can create scenes that your readers feel part of. We want them to live, breathe, and feel the moment. For example, in my latest book: Home for a While (Illustrated by Natalia Moore/Magination Press), I wanted readers to FEEL Calvin’s uncertainty. Instead of saying Calvin felt uncertain, I highlighted his uncertainty by zooming in.
“Maggie?” Calvin asked, his voice gruff.
“Why do you want to hug me, anyway?”
ACTIVE LANGUAGE: Use active language to draw your readers into the emotional arc. In Home for a While, I used active language to draw my readers into Calvin’s experience. For example: “His hands shook as he waited for Maggie’s reaction.”
The use of active language adds more resonance to the moment, and pulls the reader into the emotional arc.
CREATE SPACE FOR MIXED EMOTIONS: Feelings aren’t straightforward. They are often a mixed up and muddled mess. Create space for mixed emotions in your manuscript by showing your character’s physical reactions, highlighting your character’s internal experience, and leaving lots of white space for the illustrator.
PACING: Pacing plays a huge role in the emotional arc and in the heart of your manuscript. Pacing moves the plot forward, and highlights conflict, motivation, stakes, resonance, and intensity of emotion. Use pacing to your advantage.
These are just a few of the tools you can use to hone in on your heart and amplify your emotional arc. You can find additional tips in this blog post I wrote a couple of years ago. https://laurenkerstein.wordpress.com/2019/04/26/laurens-quick-read-crafty-tips-take-your-readers-breath-away/
As I always say, we must feel, write, and risk as creators.
The more you feel…
The more risks you take with your writing...
The more heart and emotion will shine through.
Buy Home for a While HERE.