Friday, January 21, 2011

Jane Porter - How to Use Emotions to Power Up a Story

Bestselling Romance author Jane Porter was the speaker for the January meeting of the San Diego Romance Writer's of America..  Porter's presentation was about how to use emotions to power up a story.  Here are ten tips from yesterday's presentation.

  1. State the emotion.  Porter said that this technique, while the most basic, is best used when the author is writing in 1st person.
  2. Explain the emotion by stating it and then conveying details.  "Frank was angry and his fists were clenched."
  3. Use dialogue to show the emotion.  Porter told the San Diego attendees that if a wife says, "Forget it!" to her husband, this conveys a great deal of emotion in two short words.  Such exchanges are "bullet like" and make great dialogue.
  4. Using actions such as in a love scene can convey what characters are feeling without the need for words.
  5. Introspection is another way to help readers understand a character's thoughts.  Perhaps a character is doing one thing while thinking another.
  6. Porter also said that she uses opposing goals for characters to set up emotional conflicts.  She finds that this technique brings readers in touch with the characters' emotions right away.
  7. Certain settings also enhance emotional scenes.  For instance, a love scene set in the desert at night becomes suddenly much smaller due to the dimness and twinkling stars.
  8. Emotions will ring true with readers when they are authentic.  Stripping emotions bare is even more effective, yet melodramatic outbursts or descriptions have the opposite effect.
  9. Suppressing emotions can be very dramatic.  Porter says that she uses this technique with male characters or with female characters who have "shut down."  Underneath, they feel their emotions, yet on the surface they refuse to show them.
  10. Mix it up.  Be sure to use a variety of techniques and not get locked into using the same options all the time.
Special thanks go to Linda McDonald for taking meeting notes.  One special piece of advice that Porter passed along to the San Diego writers in attendance: "Draw on the emotion from your own life to power your writing." Source:  San Diego

Jane's latest women's fiction is She's Gone Country.

Shey Darcy is a thirty-nine-year-old model who once graced the covers of Vogue and Sports Illustrated. She has led a charmed life in New York City with her photographer husband and three sons. But when Shey's husband reveals that he's leaving her for a man, her world falls apart. Unable to find solace amid the noise and confusion of the city, Shey moves back to her family ranch with her kids. However, the quaint small-town Texas setting doesn't offer the type of relief she hoped for. Shey's mother and brothers can't help meddling and to make matters worse, her ex-crush has walked back into her life. Shey is strong-minded and independent, and all she wants to do is figure out how to get through this rough patch alone, without the help of her family or the sexy, rugged cowboy Dane Kelly. Despite her efforts, Shey's life just seems to get worse. Her sons are failing in school and want to move back to New York, and their money situation isn't improving. Shey soon realizes that in order to reinvent herself, she must let go of an uncertain future and a broken past, and allow for the possibility of new love in the present.
Jane's Website

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