February 11, 2019

More Emotional Bang for Your Book: Part Two

Emotion is internal, but by using external cues and triggers you can build a heartbeat for your novel.

  1. Visual Prompts/Setting/Descriptions—using ordinary everyday snapshots of life, situations to reflect a character’s fears, pain, and goals.

Your character is hiding something from herself, trying not to let something consume her.  What could she see, who could she meet what question could a stranger ask that might bring emotion rising to the surface and spilling onto the page?  i.e. If a character just lost her mom, having an elderly woman at the grocery store ask for assistance to reach a top-shelf item might stir up regret for not shopping with her mom. 

Descriptions are to a novel what music is to films.  When romantic music plays and the heroine looks out into a crowd, viewers wait breathlessly for the hero to appear.  Think of the Jaws-like music that gets your pulse racing just before something scary happens. What can you describe to help set a mood?

Use setting to enhance conflict or layer in emotion.  Consider this: A man plans to propose in a restaurant.  Who is at the next table?  An elderly couple holding hands, celebrating their 70th anniversary?  Or is it a couple bitterly discussing their divorce?  If the about-to-be-proposed-to heroine doesn’t want kids, yet the hero does, why not add a table with a crying child to stir up trouble? Consider how setting changes mood.  Think of the difference of a proposal at a ball game versus one at a romantic restaurant.  If a scene isn’t working, try changing the setting.

Example:  In Born at Midnight the first book in my young adult series, my heroine’s parents are divorcing.  In the first scene the father is moving out.  Not close to her mother, the heroine begs to go with him, but he refuses. Hearing her parents argue, she walks into the living room hoping they’ll stop. As she steps into the new setting, I needed to set the scene. I could’ve described the color scheme or furniture. Yet I described the fifteen framed photos on the wall of all the father-daughter trips she’d taken.  There were no mother-daughter photographs, because there were no mother-daughter trips.  Why is her father leaving her with the parent who loves her the least?

  1. Lighting and Weather are Mood Makers

Producers hire lighting directors because lighting effects mood.  Think of what would happen on a first date if the lights went out leaving the couple in pitch darkness. Imagine the heightened senses. Need more conflict in your scene? Consider having the sun blaring in a window right at your character or having a tense conversation as thunder rolls in the distance?  Use weather to enhance or contradict mood.

Example A: The sun spilled down from a sky that had those beautiful fluffy, white clouds.  The kind when you were young that you stared at to see if you could find an elephant or a giraffe.  It was the perfect day to find out you were cancer free. 

Example B:  The sun spilled down from a sky that had those beautiful fluffy, white clouds.  The kind when you were young that you stared at to see if you could find an elephant or a giraffe. It was simply too beautiful a day to tell a mother that her six-year-old daughter was dead. 
C.C. Hunter, AKA Christie Craig, born and raised in Alabama, now hangs her hat in Texas.  Author of forty books, she’s a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.  Whether penning her young adult or her adult romantic suspense novels, her ability to create emotional connection to the reader is her trademark.  On February 8thThis Heart of Mine, a story of young girl’s journey to receive a heart transplant that comes with the murdered donor’s memories will release in paperback.  On March 26thIn Another Life, a story of young girl who discovers she was kidnapped as a child, will release.Find more information at or  Join her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Christie Craig URLs  Twitter  Facebook Goodreads Instagram CC Hunter URLs  Twitter  Facebook

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