Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Guest Post: Evoking emotions in writing

Evoking emotions in writing (aka – why Val doesn't write poetry)

Today, I turn my blog over to fellow writer and all-around lovely human, Val Griswold-Ford. I first met Val online at Forward Motion for Writers. Then we realized we lived about an hour and change from one another. We've become friends and critique buddies over the years. I've enjoyed her Carter's Cove stories from the first time I read her advent serials. And yes, I want to move there.

Take it away, Val!


First, Lisa, thank you for letting me come over and talk! For those who follow Lisa, you know she writes lovely poetry, [thank you, Val!] a talent which I am insanely jealous of, because I love poetry, but the honest truth is that I suck at it. I can write paragraphs that can flow and be lyrical, that can jump off the page, but my poetry just lies there, limp and uncaring and flat, like a fish gone far too long to be salvaged. [Hey, Val, that's a pretty vivid metaphor - you know, as in poetry. . ..] But I love poetry, and I think that anyone who can write it has magic.

Good poetry evokes emotions, not just in the reader, but in the poet as well, and to be a successful writer of anything, you have to feel it. Otherwise, you're a typewriter or word processor – you're throwing words on a page that lie as flat as the long-dead fish I referenced earlier. Emotions mean life, and life is what brings readers into a story.

I hate writing rules, so I'm not going to be giving you a bunch of technical tips and tricks on how to get emotions into your writing. The only two rules that mean anything is BICFOK (Butt In Chair, Fingers On Keyboard), and care about what you're writing about, as far as I'm concerned. You have to love your story, your world, your characters. If you don't, it shows. The readers can tell.

I adore Carter's Cove, the setting for my newest series that starts with Winter's Secrets. I really, really want to make it real and move into it, even though I hate winter and loathe snow, and it's set on the coast of Maine. Why? Because the town is a living, breathing character, as much as Molly and Schrodinger are. It's been a bit of a challenge to write, because I don't see pictures in my mind, so I have spacial issues. But it's something I've been able to work around, and it's very important to me that my readers can see who and what I'm talking about, while still being able to connect with the characters on their own.

For me (and remember, I hate rules, so this is for me only, YMMV), the key to evoking emotions is to engage my senses. [Yup. That's one of the major parts of writing poetry, too.] And not just the ones we always remember (sight and sound). What does the air feel like against your character's skin? What does he or she smell? Taste? These little things build upon one another, until your reader is standing there beside your character, the cold winter wind bringing the scents of tea and salt water to their noses, the sounds of horses' hooves on the cobblestones as they pull a sleigh full of singing children behind them. If you're really good, your reader will now be reaching for a blanket, because they're cold, even though they're reading your book on the hottest afternoon in June so far. That's a master stroke, right there.

To find more about Molly, Schrodinger, and Carter's Cove, check out Winter's Secrets on Amazon. You can also see their adventures on my blog,, and follow me on Patreon, where I'm offering stories under Valerie Ford. Thank you again, Lisa!


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