Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Celia Bryce Virtual Writing Workshop Blog Tour: Emotion

Celia Bryce - photo
Today it's my huge pleasure to have debut author Celia Bryce with us for an amazing guest post!  Her book Anthem For Jackson Dawes is, I will warn you, a real heartbreaker.  Think Before I Die and The Fault In Our Stars for younger readers. It's also freaking amazing.  So it's with loads of excitement that I hand over to Celia, who's giving us writing tips on getting emotion into a story...  Enjoy!
Oh, and if you want to know more about Celia, check out Her Website!  :)


Emotion. Love, hate, joy, sadness, pride, agitation… I could go on and on. Any dictionary will tell you what emotion means. But how to make the reader feel an emotion is tricky and another area where there’s a fine balance to be aimed for. As with any aspect of writing, what is great for one reader will be hopeless for another but that’s fine. I don’t worry too much. I can’t please everyone. A whole cinema full of people won’t have the same feelings about the same film. I’ve heard people sniffing in some parts of a movie while others are obviously bored out of their minds. It’s the same with books and plays.

In a book about young people with cancer there are going to be sad places, angry places, and there are going to happy, joyous and laugh filled places. All emotions felt by the characters and hopefully the readers. Balance. That’s what’s required. There is often sadness in life, just as there is often happiness. There are degrees of both and sometimes they’re mixed up together and it’s difficult to know where one ends and the other begins. Too much of any one  might be a bit weird. In a story which is about real life, it wouldn’t feel real without sadness as well as happiness, anger as well as contentment and even though Anthem for Jackson Dawes is not a real story about real people I wanted to make it as real as possible. To feel real. Otherwise it would be like a fairy tale with no dragon or giants or monsters and everything in the garden rosy and with not too much rain hurt the flowers and not too much sun and definitely no horrible winds or storms. Life isn’t like that. Nor is it all doom and gloom. There is joy and happiness in life, even if at times it can be hard to find.

I wish that cancer didn’t exist but it does and it affects not just the person who has it but all those people around, family and friends, nurses and doctors. To make my story feel real I had to include these people and show some of their emotions as well as those felt by Megan and Jackson. 

Now then, I don’t like sentimental writing and if I show signs of it then sorry again and let me know and I’ll try to do better. But how do we show emotion when we’re writing, how do we make the reader feel something without using too many adverbs and adjectives, too many describing words and too much sentimentality?

It’s easy to write that a character says something angrily or sadly, dejectedly or happily. It’s easy to say that a character feels anger or sadness, feels dejected or happy. You can use those words and lots more besides and really there’s nothing wrong in that. But there are other ways. I like to show how a character thinks, acts and speaks. Towards the end of Anthem for Jackson Dawes for example, I’ve tried to show how dejected and angry Megan feels without using those words. When she asks where Jackson is and Sister Brewster tells her that he’s not coming back to the ward, Megan looks down at the slippers she’s still wearing. They look stupid on her feet. She never wanted them, but Mum insisted on bringing them in. She’d never thought about it until that moment when she didn’t want to hear what she was being told about the boy she’d come love. I used her thoughts about the awful, babyish slippers to represent what she was really feeling. Later in the book, Megan’s having a bath and watching all the bubbles popping, dying, from the big ones to the little ones so tiny they’re hardly bubbles at all. She’s not really imagining them as people she knew on the cancer ward, she’s not actively thinking of Kipper or perhaps tiny babies, but because she’s feeling sad and lonely those bubbles could easily represent them. Alternatively they could represent the life she once had and will never have again, because her experience has changed her. I’m not sure what I intended, but I do like bubbles, I like watching them float and the way they reflect the world around them and when they pop I feel a tiny sense of loss. I wanted Megan and the reader to feel a sense of loss. Bubbles seemed perfect for the job.


Thank you so much for this, Celia!  I do love listening to the professionals giving us writing tips!  
And all you guys - you must read this book!  It's sad, beautiful, heartbreaking, full of hope...  Just amazing.  And if you don't believe me, well, just check out my review!
Oh, and don't forget to keep on following the tour!  It stopped yesterday at The Pewter Wolf and it's gonna be stopping off tomorrow at Readaraptor!  So keep on following and check it out!! :D

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great advice! Your book sounds like heart-warming tale:-)