Emotional Punch

It’s a term that took me a long time to grasp during my development as a writer, mainly because I didn’t know whether I was getting it right until I was. And even now I struggle with it. I tend to go back and edit in emotional punch after I’ve written first draft. It just doesn’t come naturally to me the way it does to so many writers I know.
Emotional punch is exactly what it’s name implies. It’s literally slapping your reading with a hefty dose of empathy for your characters. The bigger the slap the greater impact your story will have. It’s like the X-factor in a scene. It makes it or breaks it and is very hard to define. You can usually see characterisation in a scene pretty easily. You also follow the building up of suspense without too much trouble. Even analysing the realism of the dialogue is perfectly doable. But emotional punch is like varnish. A writer has to paint it over everything to give that particular scene the chance to shine.
Emotional punch is tied to a lot of techniques. Showing rather than telling, good metaphors, deep point of view and even the writer’s voice or way of speaking.
Let me explain.
Show don’t tell: eg. It’s better to give Jane the sweats, then to say she’s nervous.
Metaphors: It’s also better to say, ”Jane’s heart dropped into her stomach” than to say she is nervous.
Dropping into deep point of view: Sometimes literally. OMG! Can I really do this?
Voice is different for everyone so I won’t go there.
So here’s the story without emotional punch : Jane was felt nervous. She didn’t know if she could achieve her goal.
And then the story with emotional punch : Sweat broke out on Jane’s brow as her heart dropped into her stomach. OMG! Can I really do this?
See what I mean? It’s all about hopping on one foot and rubbing your tummy at the same time.
But you gotta love a challenge.

Go find one!

I better get back to finishing this scene.

Avoiding Waffle

Well, today I hit 75 000 words in my current manuscript. That’s three quarters the way through. I am very happy to be finally looking home stretch in the face. Got a bit of research to get through though before I can write the final chapters.
Research, in my opinion, is both tedious and interesting. When you know nothing about a subject, it can sometimes be quite daunting in the beginning when you usually find out exactly how many questions you have. But I think once you’ve cracked the shell of the egg, so to speak, you can really get into the good stuff and find yourself immersed in a subject.
My first port of call is usually the internet. Then newspapers, dvds or media if it’s applicable or available. Third step is talking to people with experience in that area or visiting the place of interest. My last research source will be the library for a physical book. But if I’ve gathered enough fodder along the way, I usually won’t even make it there.
I tend to focus on the human interest aspect of topics rather than the facts. Facts are always the first thing to be cut by editors and critique partners alike. Why? Because they’re boring and are usually given the highly technical term : “waffle.” In, “The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots,” I spent a lot of time with my husband, (who is lawyer) getting the court case exactly right. Who stands where, who says what, what they say, what they wear, what the room looks like, or the formalities that barristers go through when they stand up in court and argue- particularly the descriptive legal language they use. My critique partners did the first slash and then my editor almost abolished the rest because it just didn’t move the story forward. In fact, I just got bogged down by the temptation to show off my knowledge. Big writing tip here : don’t do it!
I’m not saying it’s okay to get things wrong. But I wouldn’t bother spending paragraphs explaining why something is the way it is, if it’s not absolutely pertinent to the plot. Even if it’s really interesting to you!
I know for myself that when I get to that sort of a point in a book where the author goes off on a tangent about some aspect of the setting or an interesting but unimportant element of the main character’s occupation, I just skim till I get back to the story content.
That aside though, I do plan to enjoy my week of research before jumping back into fiction.
Wish me luck.

The Messages People Take

When I put pen to paper and wrote “The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots” I had three main aims prioritized in the following order.
1. For my own enjoyment
2. To entertain an audience
3. To sell the manuscript due to diligence to point number 2.
Honestly, the very last thing on my mind was preaching to the public. After selling the book and all the promo that followed, including attending book clubs and talking to readers, I discovered that although that was not my intention there were many messages been received loud and clear all over the place.
One lady at a book club said that what she took from the novel was that you should never make snap judgements or assumptions about people because of where they’re from or what they look like. This theme was particularly true of my heroine Lena, who proved herself time and time again despite what people assumed about her. And also of my hero, Dan, who was hiding so much pain beneath that seemingly impenetrable exterior.
I thought, wow! what a great thing to take from my novel and was quite humbled by some of the other personal messages being received by other readers.
However, the most common message received from, “The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots” is it’s advocacy for the strong female succeeding working in a male dominated industry.
I have had many women in the fields of engineering, mining, geology, safety, surveying and drafting commend me on my promotion of women taking on and succeeding in challenging careers usually dominated by men.
When I was writing this novel, I never consciously thought to send that message but am so glad it is now being received!
This week I have been preparing for an upcoming presentation at John Holland. (An engineering firm in my home town.) The presentation will be about how to attract more women to work in careers such as engineering and how I came to write, “The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots.”

Please Vote for Me

Well, it’s a big week for me. I’ve just been nominated along with ten other writers as a Cosmopolitan Fun fearless female in the Author Category. This announcement was made in the July Issue of Cosmo which came out in stores just a few days ago. I was so stoked to see my name in a line up of fabulous Australian authors.
So what is this award about ….
For six years, Cosmopolitan has been honouring a select number of women and their achievements in different areas of talent. There are 11 categories: actress, singer, TV personality, radio host, sportswoman, author, fashion designer, rising star, blogger, inspirational role model and entrepreneur.
The top three finalists in each category will be announced in the September issue of Cosmo and the winners will be announced at their VIP party in September, including the Woman of the Year, who receives a $10,000 cheque. The winner and finalists are voted on by the public. Last year’s winner was actress, Yvonne Strahovski.
It’s all very exciting and I am so thrilled just to be in the running for such an award. If you’d like to help make me a finalist, the way to do it is vote at the following website www.funfearlessfemale.com.au.
Thanks in advance for your support!