Monday, March 26, 2012

Scene & Sequel: How to write emotion into your sequel without making everyone want to puke

Holly wrote:

HELP!!! I just wrote a scene where my protag hacked into a thumb drive of her recently murdered dad. She finds porn-pics her dad took of her childhood best friend. She knew this had happened--he did time for it--she just didn't know he immortalized it with pictures. She is shocked and horrified and grossed out. Now i need to move into a sequel of that & go into more emotion. I'm having a hard time because i'm trying to keep tension up, not do too much exposition, not too much "woe-is-me... this is so, so, so icky what i found". I tried to move on with her getting a plan of what she should do next, trying to ramp up tension, but i need more sequel. Got any ideas for how to do more emotion without the melodrama?

The best thing to remember when writing emotion into a scene (or sequel) is that there is a difference between drama and MELOdrama. What is the difference? Drama is the natural, outward expression of our emotions. Melodrama is all about the wringing of the hands and wailing unto the heavens at the injustice of it all type crap. Drama--good. Melodrama--bad.
Try this exercise: close your eyes and pretend you're your protag. You've known for years that your father was a child molester and that he did horrible things to your best friend... but knowing is different than seeing it with your own two eyes. While you're "in your protag", think about how this makes you feel--being confronted with visual proof of what you already know. Are you shocked? Hurt? Sad? Angry? Now think about the first time you knew something was wrong between you and your best friend.. The day the two of you were playing hide and seek. You saw her come out of your father's study. She was pale, looked sick--like she'd been crying. Your father followed her out. He looked flushed and a bit on edge. That was the day she left without saying goodbye. After that, she refused to come to your house anymore. How did that make you feel? Were you confused? Hurt? Did you think you'd done something wrong or did you have that funny feeling that told you it was about your father and what'd happened in that study? How did that effect your relationship with her? Did you remain friends? Did she start to ignore you? Was she mean to you? Is there a physical reminder of your friend and the way it used to be between you? What are you doing while you entertains this memory? Looking at a picture of your BFF (Not a gross one)? Holding the friendship necklace the two of them had halves of? Only you know the answers. Remember, you're supposed to BE your protag right now.
This is where developing relationships with your characters come in handy. I know it sounds a bit crazy, but it helps. If they become real people to you, with distinct personalities, then their outward expression of emotion will come naturally to you--and them.
After completing the above exercise, write a few paragraphs, telling about the day your protag knew something was wrong with her best friend. Let her feel the emotion of that memory. No wailing. No sobbing. No shaking her fist skyward and screaming "WHHHYY!!" Just her natural outward expression of emotion. It doesn't have to be long, just enough to give us an idea of how finding these pictures effected her. In short, let us know what is at stake for her, emotionally, and that she's not a robot. :)

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  1. Maegan--one word for you: Epic. Ok, two--Epic & Awesome! Thank you... off to write...:)

  2. I just got through writing in this week's submission that my sequels were weak. Geez, talk about timing! I'm going to devour this in a bit.