Once Again - Emotions and Writing

I'm traveling to attend the wedding of a grandson and for the first time in my blogging history I have decided to repost a blog from the past. It is one of the blogs I wrote after I received a contract from my publisher.

Emotions and Writing – My Observations

This morning I purchased another book. This is my new addiction now that I have a Kindle. It was a magazine review of this book that got my blood pumping and created within me a desire to find out what a little boy could possibly know about a murder. So, at the Kindle Store, my fingers pressed the right keys, thus causing the title to appear on my Kindle home page. As with all addictions, I was helpless to control this process.

Reading what others have written has always been part of my life and, if the story is well written, I’m soon experiencing the emotions and feelings of the characters. During my childhood, my mother read to me almost every night. One of my favorite stories then was Peter Rabbit. As Mom read to me, I became caught up in the emotions of Peter, an adventuresome bunny, who just couldn’t seem to be good like his sisters. When Peter had a close call with the angry farmer, my heart beat faster and I felt anxious about his safety, even though I had already heard the story many times.

I have to believe that Beatrix Potter, as she wrote, felt what that little bunny felt each time he was discovered by, and then slipped away from, the farmer.  I believe that’s what made her such a great author. 

A few months ago I read Mark Twain’s Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and as I read, I experienced the emotions of being in Hank Morgan’s life-threatening situations. It would be unimaginable that Twain was passive and distant from his characters.  I think he had to “be” the people he wrote about in order to make them and their situations real to me.

I’ve heard writers say they can’t understand why they often get questions from readers, such as: “Did you pattern the main character after your life?” or “Were the things that happened in the story your experiences?”

From the many novels I’ve read over the years, what I have learned is that the answers to those questions are probably both “yes” and “no.”  No, in that the character is not the author or even like the author, but yes, because the author managed to crawl inside the skin of the protagonist and live as one with that character, thinking the thoughts, experiencing the emotions, and feeling the pain as each scene unfolds on the pages of the book. I suspect that it is when the heartbeat of the protagonist and the heartbeat of the author become one that the emotions and actions of the story become real. Thus, the reader of this “real” account is transported through time and circumstance to live inside of the story.

While I was writing my novel, only a select group of people was allowed to read my story.  Those who were allowed to read it received the manuscript along with instructions to be honest.  As with most authors, the first readers were family.  You would have to know our family and the security we have within the ranks to understand the brutal honesty from my nearest and dearest. 

Following circulation to kin, I expanded my readership to include trusted friends, critiques by fellow members of my writers group, and, finally, I ventured out into the waters of writing contests.

From each of my readers, I received comments and beneficial evaluations, but one I have come to cherish is one I received via a phone call.  The reader simply said, “I laughed and I cried.”  It was then that I knew I had become one with my protagonist and the feelings she had were the feelings shared by the reader.

Child of Desire release date, November 2011.

Note: I may soon repost additional past blogs about writing.


  1. Beautiful post. So many people try to box in the process of developing relatable protagonists. Sure, there are those pillars you need to hit when making a character, but I think the process should be organic each time. It should be different. It should be unique.

    Like the post.

    1. Thank you, Kevin, for your kind comment. Reading the works of authors who breathed life into their characters has greatly influenced my writing.

  2. I know you used a few examples in the post, but what's the first book that comes to mind when you think of a strong character?

    let me know and I'll try and give it a read.

    1. Narrowing to one read is much too hard for me, though the first book that came to mind was The Dead Key. I will list some of my favorites. More than you intended, I’m sure.

      The Dead Key by Pulley was a vacation read last summer. This novel has two well-developed protagonists in a mystery that spans two decades. The story held my interest. (I dislike the indiscriminate use of sex and unnecessary language that does not add interest or move the story forward. This book has instances of both.)

      Memoirs of Cleopatra by George. George is one of my favorite authors. Her historical novels are well researched and intriguing. She brings Cleopatra to life. (I also enjoyed Mary Called Magdalene and on my “to read” list is The Autobiography of Henry VIII.)

      Israela by Casper. This story totally drew me into the lives of the characters and the suffering they experience in a conflict-ridden area of the world. Casper’s novel portrays three ordinary modern day women dealing with hurt and conflict. I could empathize with each one.

      Face of Betrayal by Wiehl. Weil’s novel is a crime story in which she develops three strong professional women characters. As the story progressed one emerged (for me) as the central protagonist.

      This week’s read (just finished last evening) is a novel written by a Twitter follower. My reason for establishing a Twitter account was to connect with other writers and I have not been disappointed. This book, The Screen Conspiracy, was written by Black, a Brit. Throughout the story he uses British terminology that is probably not familiar to people who do not read a lot. The story involves the U.S. Government and the CIA. Though the research was done fairly well, there are some errors that would be noticed by those who understand how our government functions. These things did not spoil the story for me. Interestingly, Black was able to pull off a good story without sex and bad language. Since crime is the genre, there is a lot of violence.

  3. Wow!... Are you sure you're not secretly the author of these works?... You've done a great job pitching them. I'll have to look when I get home.

    Unfortunately, school readings have kept me restricted to older works, which are great, but lack the immediacy and efficiency of modern writing.

    Thanks for the thoughtful answer.
    Talk soon,