Howdy! First off, before I get into the lesson... I wanted to let you guys know of a contest i'm doing. Technically it doesn't start until Monday, but here it is. I'll be announcing the forum thread where I'll be accepting all entries on wattpad.com on Monday. But I thought I'd let you guys see it early. :)
Now, onto the lesson. Today we're discussing how to put emotion into your stories. I hope you guys love it. Here's the video:
Example One--This is showing emotion through the backdoor with narration. This is from my middle grade book Prince Tennyson. Most people cry by the end of the second chapter. I've posted the first two (unedited) chapters here. Maybe you can see how it is I make people cry.
I will never say a bad word again. Never.
I know it’s going to be hard to stick to it, not because I go around everywhere cussing every ten minutes or something, but because everyone else around me does.
My Grandma Haney took me to her church today. I wasn’t going to go, but then she promised to buy me a new skirt with a pretty new jacket that matched. It was bribery really. I didn’t care. I love my new light blue jacket with the glittery purple butterfly on it. The blue flowered skirt was just a bonus, it was the jacket I was really after. I don’t know if I’ll ever wear the skirt again. Too fancy for school, I think.
At church the lesson wasn’t about not swearing. It was about finding a goal that will make the Lord proud of you for keeping. We all had to come up with a goal. I didn’t know what else to say, so I chose to not cuss. I figured it would be the easiest for me since the last time I said a bad word in front of my mom she slapped me. Right on the face. It hurt too. A good reason not to cuss, don’t you think?
All the kids at my new school say swear words all the time. I’ll probably get teased or made fun of for not swearing. Oh well, I guess I better get used to it. I will never say a bad word again. Not even if I want to.
I’m very good at keeping my goals. Some people say it’s because I’m stubborn, others say it’s because I’m headstrong, but Mrs. Chee, my old third grade teacher told me it’s because I’m determined. I liked that word. I had to look it up, because I didn’t know what it meant. When I looked it up, it made me smile. I wanted to be very determined after that. I even told my family about that word.
My dad liked it too. He used to say, “You are the most determined girl I’ve ever met.” Then he’d rub my hair and remind me, “That’s a good thing.”
That’s another one of my goals actually. I’m determined to remember my dad. It’ll be hard as I get older, I know. Some days it gets hard now. Some days when I close my eyes and think really hard, I can barely see his smile and the rest of his face is fuzzy. Other days I can see him so good it’s like he’s standing right next to me. It’s a good thing I’m good at keeping my goals and I’m the most determined girl. I know I will never really forget my dad. At least I hope I don’t.
I don’t want to.
I think my mom is trying to forget my dad.
It’s true. When we were moving here to grandma’s home she told me to empty the trashcans around the house. Except I think she forgot about the trashcan in her bedroom. It’s the big one she used in her office, not the small one that was normally in there. When I went to pull the bag out I couldn’t believe what I found.
A whole bunch of pictures of my dad. Some were loose and scattered everywhere in the trash and other were still in their broken frames. It looked like my mom just freaked out and hurled them all into the garbage can.
My mom does that a lot lately. Just freaks out and hurls stuff. She’s even done it at Grandma’s house. I know because I heard my grandma shout in my mom’s old bedroom at her, “Tiffany! You can hurl things all you want, but he’s not coming back, so stop it!”
My mom stopped it. She had to. Grandma is my mom’s mom, and she can be mean sometimes. Grandma says, “It’s because I’m the head mom around the house.”
It’s okay, though. Mom doesn’t know, but I saved those pictures. I only cut my finger once pulling them out, too. I figured one day she’ll want to remember Dad again. I know I would if I was married to him and he was my handsome prince.
My mom loved my dad’s uniform. She was right. He looked just like a handsome prince in it. Maybe that’s why Dad died? Maybe the bad guys thought he was a prince and not just a normal dad. You know a normal dad with a normal family and kids and stuff.
Three kids. The three musketeers.
Well, it’s a good thing I’m the oldest and I’m a determined girl, so that way I can take out my secret box and pull out Dad’s pictures and remember him. One day I’m going to teach my little brother and sister to remember him too. But right now, Mom still freaks out too much. I think I’ll keep my secret box a secret for a little while longer.
Besides, now I have something else to figure out. Something that’s had me puzzled for a whole two days since I went to church with Grandma and Mom stayed home with the other kids. I have to decide if I want to go back. Grandma’s already asked me if I survived and if I wanted to come to church again. I’m not sure. I’m not sure there’s a point to go back. I mean, what if they ask me to make another goal?
I don’t think I could handle that. I’ve got a lot on my plate right now and the swearing one will keep me busy for the rest of my life. Plus it just doesn’t make sense. Sure, we’re promising the Lord, but how does he know anyway? Just who is this guy and what makes him so special that almost a million other people make promises to him? My mom says, “God isn’t real.”
My grandma says, “Yes he is,
, and your mom knows better.” Chelsea
But how do I know which one is right? As far as I can tell it’s one big mess, as messy as the living room when the movers were helping us pack. As far as I can tell there’s no way to know which one is right either, because the guy is invisible.
Hmm… Maybe my mom is right. I’ll have to think about it.
I went to school today. I think Wednesdays are the worst days for school. Really. I think we should have the whole day off, just something fun for the middle of the week to look forward to. I bet I would work much harder if I only had to go to school Monday and Tuesday and then Thursday and Friday.
Maybe I’ll ask the principal. I’ve only been going here about three weeks now, so I’m still new enough to make ideas and point out flaws in the school. I mean, change must be brought up somehow and it might as well happen when someone new comes, someone who can see what needs fixed.
Wednesdays need fixed.
Why is it I get in trouble on Wednesdays? Always on Wednesdays. It’s like that day is doomed or something.
The worst part is I’ve made my mom cry again. I didn’t mean to. Honest. Ugh. Even Grandma, when she came to pick me up from school and heard the teacher’s report, got all watery eyed. I knew if she wasn’t standing in that classroom listening to my teacher telling on me, she would’ve probably started crying too.
It started out like any other day—well, except it was Wednesday. I hung my backpack up outside at the end of the row of hooks where my name was. Everyone could tell I’d just moved to the school, because my sticker with my name on it was a different design and color from the other kids. Then after a moment where I just stared at the bright yellow sticker that said Chelsea Tennyson across the top, I noticed that most of the kids where done hanging up their stuff. I quickly followed them into Mrs. Sheridan’s fifth grade class, and found my seat near the back by two other girls.
Those girls were actually pretty nice. One was named, Sarah with an “H” at the end, and the other one was called, Jasmine.
The problem didn’t start until after math, when Mrs. Sheridan asked us all to write about someone very special in our lives. Someone that we loved very much.
She said, “It can be a family member. Like a mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, brother, sister, aunt, uncle… anyone. Or it could be a very special friend that you have or it could be a special neighbor or a ballet teacher. Anyone special in your life, just choose one person.”
Then after that she gave us a whole twenty minutes to write something about this person.
So I chose to write about him. I wish I didn’t now. Especially since it made Mom cry, and made Grandma get teary, and made Mrs. Sheridan get mad. I really didn’t know it would cause that much trouble if I wrote about him. But it did.
I don’t like to say my dad’s name very much. It makes my heart hurt, and then I get all quiet and stuff. So I don’t. Instead I call him a prince, just like mom used to. I like to think of him that way. Handsome and strong and brave and fun and a real good singer and dancer—like all prince’s are.
Except Dad wasn’t a very good singe.
We were supposed to put the name of the person on top of the paper for the title. Well, it was Wednesday and Wednesdays are just bad period. So I figured I wouldn’t risk it by writing my dad’s real name. Instead I put:
Then I wrote all about how he and mom met and how he swept her off of her feet and took her to his castle and married her. Just like how Mom used to always tell me when I was little. For some reason I wanted my new teacher to know that story too.
Then I told about how after I, Princess Chelsea, was born he would spin me around and dance with me real close, sometimes just me and him, and sometimes in between him and Mom.
Me and Mom really liked that—to dance together, all of us—it made us giggle like crazy.
I also wrote about how Prince Tennyson used to read me nighttime stories and then tickle me until I shouted, “Uncle!”
That drove Mom crazy. She would come into my bedroom every night with her hands on her hips saying, “Ryan! How is she supposed to go to sleep with you tickling her to death?” But my mom wasn’t really mad, I could tell. She always had a smile when she said it.
The part that I guess I shouldn’t have written, and the part that I think made my teacher mad, was I said that he flew off to battle. Maybe I shouldn’t have told that part about Prince Tennyson. Maybe I should’ve just said that he was normal and went to work on computers somewhere in a bank or something. I don’t know. It couldn’t have been anything else, because Mrs. Sheridan wouldn’t let me read the rest of it.
She just said, “
! That is enough. You will not read out loud anymore.” Then she walked over to me and asked for my paper. Chelsea
Not that anyone would’ve heard what I said, the class was laughing too much. I guess no one really thought of their dad as a prince before.
After Mrs. Sheridan snatched up my paper she walked to the front of the room and tore it up. That made me sad, especially when the class laughed more. Then my teacher said really loud to everyone else, “I don’t want to hear about anymore imagined fairy tales, do you understand? School will be taken seriously, or you will have your parents called like Chelsea’s will be.”
I sat down and put my head in my arms for the rest of the time the kids talked about their favorite people. I didn’t care if I got into trouble again for not listening. It’s all because it was a stupid Wednesday, anyway. If it was Thursday this never would’ve happened.
I really needed to talk to the principal about Wednesdays.
Grandma was very mad when we drove home. She kept swearing under her breath and saying how she hated the arrogance and rudeness of some people. I just looked out the window and didn’t say a word. I couldn’t. Grandma was almost crying and my heart hurt really badly.
When we got home, I let Grandma tell my mom. I knew she was going to be really sad with me. She was. When I walked by later I heard her sniffling into her pillow on her bed. Her door was open, so I peeked inside.
She looked like a little girl, with her pink frilly bed and girly curtains hanging around her.
I wanted to tell my mom I was sorry, that I didn’t mean to make her cry. But then I heard her whisper, “Prince Tennyson, Prince Tennyson, Prince Tennyson…” over and over again. I decided now was not a good time.
Instead I went and found my little brother playing in my Uncle Jeremy’s old room. He was playing with a whole bunch of cars, the Hot Wheels kind. Cameron was just a baby when my dad left for battle, only a few months old. Now he was two and two months. Dad was supposed to come back the week before Cameron’s first birthday. We were going to have a huge party for my brother and my dad all on the same day. Except Dad never came home.
It was Wednesday when they said my dad wasn’t coming home.
I hate Wednesdays.If God is real, I wonder if he hates Wednesdays too.
Example Two (This is from Persuaded--spring 2012):
“Which part of the pool is the deepest? Do you know?”
Gregory’s whispered baritone sent shivers in my ear and I tried really hard to remember to be mad at him and not to enjoy being held in his arms. It was a losing battle. I shook my head for an answer; I really couldn’t trust myself to speak.
“No?” He chuckled. “You don’t know? Well, I guess we’ll have to figure it out ourselves.”
That did it! I started squealing. Loudly. The last thing I remember before plunging into the lukewarm water was that Gregory’s laughter was still tickling my ear. He jumped with me! Sputtering I came to the surface, free of his arms to find his face smiling above mine.
Water poured from his forehead, streamed past his eyes and right down that beaming smile. He rubbed his face and laughingly attempted to get the water from his ears. “Dang girl. You can scream loud. My ears are still ringing.”
“Serves you right.” I smirked and lowered myself into the water to smooth my hair off my face. I jerked to the side when I saw a big white mass float to the surface. What in the-? “Hey! You even got my towel wet.” I had forgotten I had wrapped it around my waist.
Gregory out and out laughed as he removed the soaking lump and set it on the patio. “That’ll teach you for wearing a towel around a swimming pool.”
“Gregory!” Kylie called as she and Lilly made it over to us. “That looked like so much fun; you have to jump in with me, too.”
“Yeah? You want to?” He happily obliged by climbing out of the pool and then waited for her.
Lilly and I waded in the water while watching Gregory scoop Kylie up and jump in with her the same way he had with me. She came out laughing and sputtering and eager to do it again. Kylie was out and dragging Gregory back up to the patio before he’d even had a chance to wipe the water off of his face. He didn’t seem to mind. The way he laughed down at her as he scooped her back up onto his broad chest, totally stopped any thoughts I might’ve had of Kylie annoying him. Gregory was far from annoyed. As a matter of fact the only one who seemed to be even a tiny bit perturbed by the whole display, was me. Even Lilly giggled as they crashed back into the water and Kylie yelled,
“Again! That was awesome! We’ve gotta do it again!”
Gregory’s answering, “Sure. It’s fun, isn’t it?” sealed it for me.
Good grief. Are they going to do this all night? They’re getting me wet. Never mind, the fact that I was in a swimming pool and supposed to get wet; I wasn’t exactly thinking rationally at the moment. All I knew for sure was I wanted to escape Kylie’s screams of delight and Gregory’s laugh. Quickly I peered into the dark around me. Carson and Madison were talking quietly over in the corner under an imported palm tree. Yeah, rather not interrupt them. The shallow end of the pool seemed to be the best bet.
I swam over to the steps and sat down on one, allowing the water to lap up around my waist. Kylie and Gregory’s antics had changed from jumping into the pool to dunking and splashing each other. By the looks of it, Lilly had joined in too. I went ahead and stayed where I was for about ten minutes, in case anyone was watching. I wanted them to think I was actually enjoying myself. Besides, the night breeze was picking up and I didn’t think I’d last much longer. After another five minutes I glanced once more around the pool and then I climbed hurriedly out.
Brr. It’s cold. Dang, I wish I had my towel. I grabbed my flip flops and didn’t even bother putting them on, before I lightly jogged on the patio and up the walk to the back door. It was just as I was lifting the handle that I heard a wolf whistle behind me, and a distinct male voice holler out,
“Who’s the babe without a towel? Where are you going?”
You’ve got to be kidding me. Talk about trying to leave unnoticed. Grr. Frantically, I managed to jerk the door open, but not before I heard Gregory call out,
“Ethan, leave her alone. You’re…” the rest was muffled by the door as it slammed behind me.
Once inside the air conditioning hit me like an Arctic breeze. I stopped a moment and slid my shoes on, before continuing my hurried jog to my room. Thankfully no one was around.
As quick as I could I jumped into a nice hot shower to warm back up again. After a few minutes I climbed out and got dressed in some old jeans and a T-shirt.
The night was still young.
I debated over which book to choose and figured I could plop onto the soft comfy couches in the family room and read it. Then if anyone would come by, it would look like I was still part of the group and interacting and stuff. It was as I was combing through the books that I came across an autobiography of a famous composer.
Oh my gosh. The piano. I almost forgot. In a flash I was out the door and running—literally running—down the hall to the music room. It was dark and after a few tries I found the switches and bathed the room in a sea of warm cream-colored lights.
The piano beckoned me, just as it had before and I quickly walked up to it. My smile would’ve burst if it could’ve got any bigger. Sitting gingerly on the stool provided, I carefully lifted the lid. I took a deep breath and willed my hovering hands to stop shaking. Slowly I lowered my right hand as my thumb pushed down on middle C for the first time in over two years, and then, out of nowhere, I cried. Like a baby. Totally cried.
I allowed the emotions of the past two years wash over me as my fingers galloped and danced their way across the keys, exploding into crescendos all around me. At first I chose strong, vibrant pieces to play before experimenting with softer, calmer melodies. And then as always, I ended with happy, joyful—even playful--arrangements that uplifted and tingled all the way into the darkest corners of my heart. Until all that was left, was a blissful carefree being, whose body hummed with the excitement and cheer that should come after playing with such enthusiasm.
My tears had long since dried. In fact I wasn’t quite sure just how long I had been playing, leaping and bounding through song after song. But I did notice the profound stillness of the room when I stopped. It was too still. I looked up into the stunned faces of my all friends. Even
stared at me from across the room. Sydney
Oh no. How long have they been here? “Uh, I-I’m sorry.”
No one spoke.
Self-consciously, I swiftly shut the cover and stepped off the raised platform. I stood a bit in the center of the room willing someone to say something.
No one said a word. They all just stared.
Fidgety and beginning to shake slightly under the pressure of their gaping, I lowered my eyes a little and said, “Excuse me.”
Once in the hallway I began to dash back to my room. I am such a freak. Seriously. Had I known I had an audience I wouldn’t have dreamed of playing like that. Honestly. I can’t even begin to imagine just how loud some of my chords were. I hadn’t held anything back for myself, my audience of one. But for them, no, I would’ve chosen much less-personal pieces to play. More widely accepted rational arrangements.
Mortified, I burst into the room and hastily shut the door. I paced a second or two between the bed and the bookshelf, before I grabbed a book at random and plunked onto the mattress and landed on my tummy. Bringing my feet up behind me, I opened the book without rhyme or reason to a page and hoped I presented a look of casual bliss. It was somewhere in between the pages of a galactic battle scene and a New Age war council that I heard the faint knock.
“Amanda?” It was
“Can I come in?” she asked hesitantly.
Great, she sounds afraid of me. “Of course.” I don’t bite. I just get a little carried away on the piano, that’s all.
I heard the door handle click open and then just as softly snicker shut.
“A-are you all right?”
walked up to her bed and looked across at me. Madison
I nonchalantly glanced up. “Yeah, why?”
She seemed a little taken aback. “Oh, you just—you just—it seemed that you were a little upset that’s all.
A little upset. I let the phrase fully sink in. “No. I wasn’t upset.” Confused, embarrassed, awkward… not upset.
I returned to my book. Yep, a New Age war council.
After a few minutes I noticed
had found a book on gardening and crashed on her bed too. She pretended to read a bit, until frustrated, she tossed the book aside and sat up. Madison
Here it comes.
“Where did you learn to play like that?”
I acted as if I had read a few more sentences before turning toward her. “Huh?”
She didn’t buy it.
laughed out loud. “You aren’t any more interested in that book, than I am in mine.” She shoved her book closer to the edge of her bed for emphasis. Madison
I chuckled and closed the book. “Caught me. Sci-Fi’s aren’t my thing, anyway.”
She grinned, “So are you going to answer me or what?”
“Gee, how do most overly spoiled rich girls learn to do anything?” I sighed as I sat up. “By Daddy paying for the best instructor money can buy.”
“I don’t believe that for two seconds.” She snorted.
“Why not? It’s true.”
“Because, first off, you’re not spoiled. Second, a million instructors in the world couldn’t have taught me how to play like that. And thirdly, you devoured that piano like you hadn’t played one in years.”
Good grief. I would get stuck with the one roommate who had psychic abilities. I decided to change the subject. “How do you do that?” It worked.
“Read people so well?”
Dang. “What? It didn’t work?”
“Nope, it didn’t work.” She tucked her feet underneath her. “So why would a musical prodigy need to come all the way to
just to play a piano?” Moab
“We don’t own one.” Plain and simple.
“Can’t afford it. The money my family had, we lost. Besides, it’s a good thing they sold the grand piano or we would’ve never had a place for it in the new house.”
“How long ago?”
Is nothing sacred? “Just over two years.”
“So you never got an upright? Or a keyboard, or anything? Your family hasn’t bought you anything to replace it with?”
“My sister got a new fuel-efficient car.”
“Yeah, I’ll bet. I’m not talking about
. Why wouldn’t your parents buy you a piano?” Sydney
I don’t know. “Because I’m the only one who plays.”
“Yeah, so what! Do you share
’s car?” Sydney
“Do you have a car?”
“No. But I don’t want one. I can use my parents’ cars.” Why are we discussing cars anyway?
“Are you kidding me?”
raised her hands up in a no shoot gesture. “I think I’m going to cry!” Madison
Don’t you dare. “That’s not even funny,
“I didn’t say it was. I’m serious. Do you realize you probably live with the most selfish family in the world?”
“Uh—” was all I managed to gasp out, before Madison plunged on.
“Do you have any idea why we were all so speechless earlier? Any clue at all?”
I shook my head.
“You’re good! You’re not just good, you’re amazing. Seriously. You’re incredible. The most talented person any of us had ever come close to in our entire lives.”
What? One small tear crept to the corner of my eye.
“And the crazy thing is;
didn’t even know it! She was just as flabbergasted as we were. Sydney—who can’t ever have anything come out of her mouth, unless it’s an insult—actually complimented you!” Sydney
Are you kidding me? The tear spilled over.
“Amanda Ellis do you even know how inspiring you are? How just by the sound of your music, we were drawn in one by one, to hear you play? Do you think just any pianist can do that? Honestly, do you have any idea how much I so want to be you right now? How much I would love to have something in my life that creates such passion and excitement within me. Holy Cow! Hasn’t anyone ever told you how wonderful you really are?” She waited then. She actually expected an answer.
Speak! “I uh—n-no.” The second tear fell. “N-no one.”
Except Greg, three years ago.
Tell me about an instance in your life that was sad, or emotional that you can use to show emotions in your stories.