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Writing From The Heart

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Why do readers read? They want to escape their world. But you knew that, because you are also a reader.

The greatest writers through time have said that the best fiction takes a reader through a fact finding journey and also on an emotional journey. The emotional journey is what connects you and the reader. Without it, you’re just relating what happens in your characters’ lives. Bonding with the reader is the most important job you have as an author. But how can you do that? There are many ways, but today I want to discuss two.

First, recall emotions, especially those you’ve buried. Buried emotions are the best because they affected your heart. Recall a time you felt hurt or happy or lost or found. Allow yourself to experience the emotions again and write them down. By writing them down, I don’t mean just the term. Write the dialog used during the conversation and the reactions both physically and mentally you experienced. Be honest with yourself. The more you peel away the layers of your psyche, the more powerful your writing will be.

Here is an example as I recall my first taste of love. I’ve changed my hero’s name to protect him.

     My first kiss happened in my family’s barn. The barn had been in my family for five generations. It was old and leaned slightly. Closing my eyes, I feel the cool air against my warm skin- the barn is built into the hillside. I can see the wood planks, turned gray from time and wear, just a few feet above my head. Bridles and lead ropes hang from pegs hammered into road milled posts nicked over years. Large rocks make up the foundation walls. My sorrel gelding is in his stall watching me, and dust mites float in the sunlight pouring in the door behind the boy who had chased me inside.

     I can smell a mixture of summer sun, feed and manure. I hear the munching of hay as the cattle fed and the sound of my horse’s neigh and snort. There is a dip from the nozzle near the shaft to the silo. I also hear the whispered alto voice of the boy with the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen, as he declared his affection for me. His gorgeous cobalt eyes were magnified behind glasses: dark framed like Clark Kent’s. Eric was my hero and always would be. I’d love him until the end of time. what-song-did-you-hear-during-your-first-kiss-1-20559-1393340859-0_big1

    My heart thumped against my breast, knowing Eric really liked me while my toes wiggled in my boots as if telling to run because if my dad found out about the kiss that was about to happen he would kill the boy and ground me for a month.  My spine stiffened and my step was defiant as I cut the distance between Eric and myself, committed to take my chances.  Looking up at me, because he was about two inches shorter, Eric’s eyes widened before closing as his lips met mine. For a brief few seconds, we entered an unknown world, a world we knew we’d entered again, in due time.

“Will you go to the movies with me on Saturday night? I can meet you there,” he said in a rush.

I simply nodded, afraid my voice would crack.

***

Writing the memory down gave me tons of ideas of how to write emotion into any first kiss scene, no matter what the age of the characters.

As an exercise in your comments, write about your first kiss. What do you recall?

Second point: Everyone has experienced a first kiss. Using that scenario immediately connects you to the reader. But what happens when you’re writing beyond your experience? Research is the answer. Say you’re writing a scene where the characters have experienced a fire and have lost everything. You’ve been fortunate enough not to have that disaster happen to you, so what you can do is ask someone who has. I did this and I’ll never forget the two of the responses I received.

One woman she said she always looked at her husband as the rock she could count on, but the day they lost everything, her husband fell to his knees literally and was lost. She took over the responsibility to shoulder their way through rebuilding their home and lives. That catastrophe made her stronger than she thought she ever would be.

The second woman told me she felt guilty after suffering the loss of everything. Her guilt was over her family’s heirlooms for which she had been entrusted. For generations the treasures from England had been kept safe and passed down. She was the one to fail to do so. She was ashamed of herself. It took her a long time to come to terms that the lost was not her fault.

Both are very unique outlooks on a tragedy that can connect you with many readers who’ve had the same experience. And for those readers who have not, we have a better insight into the depth of emotional upheave that a fire can cause.  

So show your readers your passion. Reveal your heart and the heart of others.

 

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About the author 

I began my writing career at the age of nine and sold three handwritten copies of a twenty page story. I’ve always wanted to be a writer and follow in the footsteps of my favorite authors, the ones who took me away and inspired me. Many years later, here I am.

I’ve earned the nickname of trouble from family and friends. Okay, I admit I do stir up things now and then, but in my defense I’m usually the one called on to champion a cause. 

All that life reveals is fair game to a writer.

Join my newsletter at www.autumnjordon.com to learn more about me and my works, including my Christmas romance Perfect.  photofunia-1474731871

17 responses to “Writing From The Heart”

  1. Liz Talley says:

    Such excellent advice, Autumn. When we go through emotional upheaval, the silverlining to the grief, the anger, the fear, or hurt is the ability to call upon that same feeling when we’re writing similar scenes in our books.

    First kiss…

    Well, it was with my husband so I have a first and only 🙂

    We stood outside in the crisp night air, our parents still packing up their bowling balls and calling goodnight to the teams they’d competed against for the past year.

    My hand felt damp in his despite the cold night. The unspoken desire to kiss pulled us together several times – hugs delivered, faces pressed tight, but no payoff. Nervous laughter, stammered words, two 8th graders wishing they were bolder than they were.

    Finally I looked up at him, at those pretty green eyes reflected in the glow of the parking lot. He lower his head, I closed my eyes.

    And it happened.

    After glomming romance novels in my spare time, I had expectations. But there was nothing fluttering, nothing earth-shattering. Instead of a sweet beautiful moment, all I could think about was his tongue. Did I feel it? Was I supposed to open my mouth? And if I did, what kind of girl did that make me?

    He deepened the kiss. I let him because he was almost a year older and much more experienced at kissing girls. I was a kissing virgin. Finally, it ended and all I could think was “That was kinda gross.”

    Then I looked over and saw Johnny, one of the other kids whose parents bowled, eating a huge lollipop, watching us.

    Not a lot of romance in my first kiss. LOL. But, hey, I married him so he got better 😉

    2+
    • Ahhhh I’m smiling. What a nice memory.

      You brought unique insights that we all can use in our own writing, including the on-looker. My reaction was ewww, but then I was thinking adult male looking on. LOL Still something we could use to get a reaction from our readers. Perfect example.

      Thanks so much for sharing with us.

      I wonder what your husband remembers about your first kiss? It would be fun to have the male POV of the same scene.

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  2. I’m a firm believer that a good story should be all about emotion. In fact, I have a post-it hanging above my desk that reminds me “Emotion and Motion” are what make great stories.

    In my own life, it was a hug, not a kiss, that sold me on my husband. 😉 (The kiss came later.) I’d never been hugged in such a tender way. Before that, I’d never understood how hugs can be different. As you can guess, my family wasn’t big on hugging.

    1+
    • Great saying, Anne! You have so many of them. Keep sharing.

      I never thought about a hug being tender. I always think of a hug being a hug, mostly burly, but you’re right they are different and can reveal so much about the person who is giving it and the situation between the characters. That is an awesome example. Thank you. I’m going to search my wip for hug and amp it up.

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    • Emotion & Motion – I love that, Anne Marie. Thank you for sharing it. I’ve been struggling in my WIP and that may need to become my catchphrase. 🙂

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  3. So true that emotion is what makes us connect with stories, what makes them live with us. Great post, Autumn. My first kiss was nothing to write home about – it was on stage and my primary emotion was awkwardness. SO. MUCH. AWKWARDNESS. 🙂

    1+
    • Okay. It happened on stage. I need to learn more. LOL

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      • It was a high school performance of MASH – I was Hot Lips to his Hawkeye and the kiss was in the script, but in rehearsals he’d always dipped me in a dramatic stage kiss (where the audience can’t see that we aren’t actually touching lips). But then opening night comes and apparently the entire cast was in on it except me because he swung me around in a dramatic dip and then there were lips where I was not expecting there to be lips. It was over before I could really react – and luckily I was supposed to act surprised because my performance was VERY convincing.

        I had a huge crush on him. He had this incredible curly hair (strange the things you remember) and was very fun to talk to. I would have loved to have him kiss me when he meant it – not when my dad was videotaping and it was half for the audience and half for a cast joke. I was teased about it for the entire run of the show and he never tried to kiss me again.

        Maybe that’s why I like writing romance so much. If I do that to one of my characters, they get kissed by someone EVEN BETTER before the end of the book and we all live happily ever after. 🙂

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  4. June says:

    Great topic, Autumn. Emotion is what drives us. Digging down into that emotion can be painful, but it can also be healing.

    First kiss–it must not have been memorable because I don’t remember it. I do remember kissing my husband for the first time. It was the first time I’d ever felt butterflies. It’s so cliche, but I honestly felt that flutter and I knew he was the one.

    2+
    • You’re so right about the healing part. I learned in bereavement class to allow the pain and write my anger down and then give it up the higher powers. Some burn their thoughts. I kept mine and every now and then, I’ll read them. They’re a reminder of how far I’ve come from the black hole.

      I love that you felt butterflies. Such a good guy to give them to you.

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  5. My first kiss was at a spin-the-bottle game at my church youth group (and why the counselors didn’t step in, I do not know).

    The guy was nice, I’d known him for years, and I was kinda surprised that neither one of us just walked away and said “this is stupid.”

    He had braces, so that’s what I remember most. Just the weird feel of this braces.

    2+
  6. Drawing from my life, my oldest son was jumping on trampoline, did a flip and knocked his front tooth loose. He had to wear a brace for awhile until it gained strength. Imagine if this happened to your hero. You could use your memory to connect to readers who’ve had similar experiences.

    Great example.

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  7. Rita Henuber says:

    Great topic. Emotion is a vast subject for writers. As you say, the emotion of a first kiss or how one deals with loss. Where I live many people lost everything in the recent hurricane. As you mentioned the loss of family heirlooms is devastating. Of course there were a lot of tears. Most families dug in and began the rebuilding process in a couple of days. Some couldn’t. They will leave. What is it in us that triggers our responses? This is another reason I believe to write emotions you must know your characters. You must know how they will react to the situation you write them into. What their gut reactions will be.

    1+
    • Exactly, Rita. Knowing our character’s gut reactions is important and showing unique while common feelings is the key to great writing. You want to write fresh and sometimes to do that we need to dig up old memories.

      Thanks for sharing your expertise. I hope things are getting back to normal in your area.

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  8. Sweet memory, Autumn. I received my first kiss when I was twelve from a friend of my cousin. It was merely a peck, and I never saw him again. Our lips barely touched, so I figured it didn’t really count.

    My first REAL kiss (merging of lips, closing of eyes) was when I was 15. That one was exciting.

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