Bestselling authors use a selection of sneaky tactics to manage, control and manipulate emotions. Today I want to share with you a few of their most potent methods.
These strategies can be summed up by the phrase “Attain Emotional Distance,” which is the “A” in the WRAP acronym popularized by the book, Decisive. This the third post in the WRAP Method for writers series.
Attain emotional distance applies to the author, reader and characters in the story. By applying this versatile technique, bestselling authors writer deeper, more emotionally engaging stories that readers can’t put down.
Here’s how you can apply these emotional strategies to your own writing:
- As an author, sometimes short term emotion holds you back from some element in your story (character, plot, dialogue, scene, etc) and other times short term emotion pushes you ahead too quickly toward some idea or element. Both short term emotional pitfalls are dangerous to your writing. While feeling deeply the emotions of your story is usually a good thing, be aware of any strong fears or overwhelming emotional pressure to avoid or rush headlong into any part of your story. Process the emotions surrounding the issue or element, let your feelings out in some productive way, even if that means writing what you want or don’t want to write. The key is to be aware and make fully informed decisions about what to put into and leave out of your story.
- If you are uncertain about how best to respond to your short term emotion, fall back on your core beliefs and values. What is MOST important? What do you love? What is nonnegotiable? Does this story element contradict your personal sense of right or wrong?
- Characters, too, often respond to short term emotions. Increase the realism and emotional connection of readers by having your characters react to temporary feelings of fear, love, anger, hatred, jealousy, etc. This lends itself to greater conflict, turmoil and challenge which generates story momentum.
- Characters, too, should fall back on their own personal moral codes. Especially true for most protagonists, characters in bestsellers often find a way through the short term emotions to core values of honor, integrity and sacrifice.
By applying these techniques, you can avoid the literary traps of short term emotions: rushing conflict, stagnating in the middle and leaving out important, emotionally rich material out of fear.
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How do you avoid the snares of short term emotion?