This week, I'm in the middle of revisions on my February, 2013 release IN FROM THE COLD and am dealing with an issue that is a constant in writing, especially when writing romance—going as deeply into a character's emotions as possible. Readers react to emotion. The problem comes in making sure the emotion exists without hitting the reader over the head with it.
An author has to dig deeply into a character and then, when it seems that enough has been done, go back and delve further. It requires that a writer call on imagination and memory and constant observation of the human race.
How would I feel if...? This one is hard. When I'm dealing with something new to me, it takes all of my powers of imagination to conjure up...not the right response, so much as the best one for a particular character. So, I have to try to make the emotion universal so the reader can empathize, but also specific to this character, so the reader can learn more about this person and identify.
Remember when that person you thought was a good friend betrayed you? Delve into that. Boy, is that ever hard—reaching into old memories, especially bad ones that I more often than not would rather forget or leave buried. Writers are called on to dig them up and examine them, remember how they felt to live through, and then bleed those experiences onto the page as though cutting into an artery.
What on earth is that girl feeling right now? People watching is a treasure trove of fodder for the writer. Whether on the street or in a coffee shop or in the neighbourhood, the faces of the people around us can convey so much. A fraction of an animated conversation overheard can set off all kinds of ideas in the writer.
Two of my favourite authors who never cease to engage my emotions are LaVyrle Spencer and Deborah Smith.
Which authors do you read who know how to elicit an emotional response from you, who know how to delve deeply into a character's soul, but never make you feel manipulated? Who do you learn from?