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Fanfiction ► Tips on skill building: Giving your story emotional weight



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GuardianOfHearts

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[Thanks to Anonymous for giving me the idea to write this essay. He asked the question first. xD ]

Essay #1 for the [=]Spotlight's[=] Writing Department: Techniques to use for making your fic more colorful, emotion-wise.



When writing a story, whether it be fan fiction or something totally original, several key components to any plot are the emotions that make up the overall mood.

Obviously, writers get the emotions needed from their characters. But here’s the trick: how do you suck every drop of feeling from their little made-up hearts and saturate your story with it? How do you make sure your chapters, regardless of what is happening in them, aren’t bland and toneless?

It isn’t always easy. But, that’s why I thought this would be a good topic to write about. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel as though what I’m writing has no color.

So, on with the skill-building strategies!


If you want the scenes you’re writing to be emotional, you yourself have to understand what your characters are going through; you have to be sympathetic and susceptible to their feelings.

The first thing to remember is description. Yes, you’re thinking {or at least, I hope you’re thinking} “Well duh. Description is a given, yo!”

I understand that- it’s why I’m listing description as the first and easiest strategy, because it’s the one you HAVE to remember, and SHOULD use either way.

Time for the Before&After examples!

Setting: Destiny Islands’ beach, third person Kairi, post KH angst. Because we love it so.

BEFORE!

Kairi sat on the sun-warmed sands as tears poured down her cheeks, the result of being alone for so long. Cerulean ocean waves crashed onto her sneakers, but she didn't notice.


[FONT=&quot]
“I can’t do this anymore,” She cried.
[/FONT]

Commendable? Perhaps. Emotional? Just a little. Let’s try again.

AFTER!




Kairi sat on the sun-warmed sands, tracing pictures in the whitened loam with a listless finger. Inevitable tears poured down her cheeks, blurring her vision until the meaningless lines she drew melded with the earth and sea and sky. The cool waves lapped up on the beach, like an unsteady heartbeat reminding her of each second that came and left her still alone.

“Sora…” She said, wishing that somehow he could hear,“I can’t do this by myself. I can’t be alone anymore….”




Commendable? More than before. Emotional? I’d like to think so.

And to think, all I had to do was throw in some shameless fillers. But that was just the beginning, because all that was simply external. Now let’s try some internal description.

BEFORE!

See paragraph above. No, I’m not copying and pasting it here. <.<

AFTER!




Kairi sat on the sun-warmed sands, tracing pictures in the whitened loam with a listless finger. Inevitable tears poured down her cheeks, blurring her vision until the meaningless lines she drew melded with the earth and sea and sky. The cool waves lapped up on the beach, like an unsteady heartbeat reminding her of each second that came and left her still alone. She clenched her damp eyes shut, the eternal blue of the ocean and its horizon reminding her all-too much of Sora’s cerulean eyes. But she couldn’t escape from that sadness, for his face haunted her dreams and his voice lingered in the echoes of the island wind.

“Sora…” She said, wishing that somehow her sorrow-stained words could reach his ears, “I can’t do this by myself. I can’t be alone anymore….”




Note the new lines I added? Those dealt more with what Kairi was thinking than what was going on around her. That’s what I mean by internal and external: internal is inside, external is out.

Both are equally important. Description helps to give your story weight.


Now that I think we’ve covered how description can make your fic more emotional, on to the next strategy!

Which is….

*drum roll*

…actually, I don’t have a name for it {bet you were excited there, huh?}. So let me just explain.

There’s two categories to this unnamed method. One is for fan fiction, the other is for original fiction. Fan fiction will be covered first, so here goes:


Study the character in their most emotional moments. Take Sora during his reunion with Riku and Kairi in KH2. If that’s not emotional, then nothing is. But seriously, think about it. Ask yourself these questions….

What was he doing? What was his expression? What did he say?

You know that he was crying. You know he was really upset. And he said to Riku, “I looked everywhere for you.”

That’s the easy part. Now, ask yourself….

Why was he crying? Why did he react that why? What made him want to say that, of all things?

You could say, Well, he was crying because Riku’s his best friend and he hasn’t seen him for so long. So he was relieved to be reunited.

Well, I guess you could say that. But it’s bland, and, frankly, I don’t buy it. Why would he cry over Riku, who is his best friend but also his ex-enemy, yet not shed a tear for Kairi, who is not only best friend but his potential love-interest? It doesn’t add up.

After delving deeper into this, I’ve got a broader explanation.


Kairi said it herself: “No matter where you go, I’m always with you.”

But Riku couldn’t be farther away, in more ways than one. In KH, Sora found Kairi, but did he find Riku? Not really. At the end of the story, he was the one they still needed to look for. And their brief hello-and-goodbye while closing Kingdom Hearts wasn’t enough to breach the gap the Darkness had left between them. A crevasse in their friendship that started to open when they left Destiny Islands through different means and widened as the Darkness took hold of Riku little by little.

Think of how much this must have hurt Sora. Sure, he may love Kairi, but he and Riku still have an intense bond, no matter how many times they fought. After all that striving, he had to see him get locked behind that door, and during KH2, he was always just a step behind Riku, knowing he was there but never catching up to him. And when he was sure it was Riku, and Riku had to know it was him- why didn’t he reveal himself?

This all must have been very frustrating for Sora. And now- finally! –here was Riku, unmasked, and about to walk away during their journey’s climax, when Kairi was with them too. I imagine it must have been unbearable for Sora to think of going through the whole process of chasing after Riku again.

And of course, seeing him with Ansem’s appearance must be factored in as well.


So, there you have it. A deeper explanation of Sora’s reaction.

Now, try this technique on other scenes, whether original ones you place the canon characters in or narrations from KH/2, and see what comes of it. When you think you have sucked every nuance of the scene, use the best descriptions you can to convey this to your readers.


Now, what to do with original characters?

For me, original characters are like strangers to me; they show up on my doorstep like stray cats, and I have to take them and get acquainted while figuring out their personality.

If you have this same problem- uncertainty to what they think or feel –try putting them through a series of tests.

Think up a situation, and put your OC {original character} in it. Think about how they react, and then repeat the same questions I mentioned for canon characters. Take what you already know about them and use that to determine what they’re going through. Think up conversations, and ponder on how they would answer, and what they would or wouldn’t do.

This, I can’t give an example for. Way too many, refer to the aforesaid analysis.


Practice writing, and using these techniques. It can’t hurt, can it?

I hope I’ve helped anyone in their writing, and I thank anyone who takes the time to read, and, especially, reply.

Good luck~





-GuardianOfHearts

[P.S.: I apologize for the weird font and spacing. It wasn't there when I copied and pasted, but I can't change it. Sorries.]
 

Anonymous

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Wow... my small problem inspired all of this :D

Definetely going to use this for my irritating dilema...
Good job!
 

Sterling_Silver

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Amme....

They're not gonna have enough room in the sticky section before you're through. =O

But it rawks. Really. But I have a question. If you tell the readers to go listen to a song while reading the chapter, wouldn't that help get the feel for it? Like if it were a sad chapter, you'd put, "I recommend listening to
Let me go', by three doors down." and it worked better than if you had tried to describe it yourself?

Or is that just being lazy? o.o
 
T

TheTerrorofDeath

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Wow this must of taken some time. I will probably use this to inflict on some of my upcoming characters. Expect some more of me in the roleplaying section. Thanks Guardian.
 

GuardianOfHearts

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Sterling_Silver said:
But it rawks. Really. But I have a question. If you tell the readers to go listen to a song while reading the chapter, wouldn't that help get the feel for it? Like if it were a sad chapter, you'd put, "I recommend listening to 'Let me go', by three doors down." and it worked better than if you had tried to describe it yourself?

Or is that just being lazy? o.o

Silver, I suggest saying that in addition to describing it yourself, lazy arse. xD It will enhance the overall effect.

Especially if you provide linkage to said song. =D


I'm glad this helped! ;3
 

Ruki

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Thanks, I'll go use this to write the next chap of Chained that I've been putting off.
 

getblazedordie

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this deserves to be a sticky thread, very awesome help, you should add about chracter development and other things to help us writers. very good stuff, thanks GoH

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