Concrete Emotions

“Concrete” is the opposite of “abstract.” It’s also a hard, durable substance that can be used to make foundations, walls, roads, etc.

The story I’m currently rewriting involves a lot of emotion. The main characters each have a magical ability to sense the feelings of other people or creatures they are bound to. One thing I’m trying to do as I rewrite is make the emotions real to readers.

My friend Oddstuffs is very good at this. When she’s published and you can all read her work, watch for this. She has a unique knack for describing emotions in visceral terms that grab you by the front of your shirt and make you pay attention.

So instead of writing something like, I could sense Chayña’s disappointment, I say, I felt the chill of her disappointment, adding in a term you can reach out and feel. But even better is when I can link the feeling to a visceral sensation both my main character and readers associate with the emotion, often with a simile or metaphor. I felt the chill of her disappointment–like icy water sliding down my throat.

Personifying emotions is another tactic to sprinkle into a story. I could write about how rage clawed at the inside of my chest, or somesuch, rather than simply stating I was enraged.

These kinds of concrete descriptions are extra fun when the text is read aloud. They add a lot of life to a narrative, and can make it more memorable. They’re durable (like concrete).

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Happy Yarning.

Why Writing a Novel Is Not Like Building a Puzzle

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As I sorted through the pieces of a 3,000-piece puzzle, it hit me that 3,000 is a lot of pieces. I spent at least an hour just finding all the edges.

50,000 is even more pieces. I thought about how each word in a novel is like a puzzle piece, interlocking perfectly with the words around it to create a large, awesome picture.

Except…

The words don’t come nicely cut up and packaged in a box. You, the writer, have to find each one in the world around you.

You don’t get a 600 dpi image of the finished image handily printed on a box. You get, maybe, a thumbnail. The picture gets larger and clearer as you go, but never exactly matches what you’re building.

Besides that, a lot of the pieces don’t interlock as smoothly as a jigsaw. Sometimes a jagged edge fits best beside a curvy one. And there are always extra pieces that you could swap in. The puzzle never seems finished!

Compared to writing a novel, building a 3,000 piece puzzle is relaxing. Maybe that’s why I’ve been itching to build one.

Luckily, there’s a magic spell you can cast over your finished “puzzle” that will beguile all readers into thinking it’s super awesome.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Happy Yarning.