Adding Emotions To Your Scene

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Using my unreleased manuscript An Angel On Her Shoulder, I am showing you my techniques for reworking a story into a more readable, more enjoyable piece. It’s 45+ lessons in about 45 days. (To start at Chapter 1, click HERE, the prior chapter is HERE)

To view it best, bring up the two versions in different windows and view them side by side to see what was changed.

Then give me your thoughts in the comment section.

We needed some emotion to enhance the scene (and for other reasons I’ll mention at the bottom so as not to be a spoiler) so I added it. See the differences between the two versions and get a feel for how your reader benefits from having a character become emotional.

 

 


An Angel On Her Shoulder, Chapter 5 “FINAL”

 

“Hey.”

One simple word could not have meant more to any other person ever in their entire lives.

Mallory turned to the voice and saw me, her smiling husband, holding our daughter in my arms. She ran over and grabbed us both, hugging the two of us tighter than she ever had before. “Oh, thank God!”

Smiling upon seeing my wife; now I was concerned. “What’s the matter?”

“I didn’t know it wasn’t you.” Mallory glanced at me and then out to the parking lot. “I mean, I thought it was you, the two of you, out there.” Tears welled in her eyes. She buried her face in my chest. “I didn’t know you two were okay.”

I put my arms around my wife as she continued to squeeze me and our daughter. In the winery doorway, the three of us embraced, a family reunited after only minutes, but to Mallory it must have seemed like hours. I’d never seen her like this.

“I heard somebody yell for an ambulance and when I got to the window I saw somebody laying on the ground and . . .” The words caught in her throat. “Her dress was the same color as Sophie’s.”

“It’s okay.” I rubbed her back, feeling the tension draining out of it. “We’re okay.”

She kept hugging us. “I’ve never been so scared!”

I gazed out the doorway at the carnage. The crowd around the victims obscured almost everything except the blood. Small pools of it streamed across the lot to the storm drain. It looked different from the blood they show in movies. That, and the damage to the cars in the parking lot, did a lot to fuel my wife’s impression that she’d just lost her family.

What a scene. The entire sedan was smashed like a soda can. The trunk was crumpled but the car had been forced around backwards so now the hood faced the winery and the trunk faced the vineyards. Our rental van was demolished. The side nearest the sedan was almost completely torn away.

Had we been sitting there for our picnic, we would have been killed.

Heaving against my chest and covering our daughter in kisses, Mallory thought we had been.

Sophie and I never made it to the van. A distraction—a little temper tantrum—had slowed us long enough to avoid being victims of the wreck, but I had witnessed all the shocking carnage. I pulled open the winery door and the gray pickup truck squealed its wheels. It launched across the parking lot like a rocket, smashing right into the sedan—and the people. I saw it all, and was able to turn Sophie away so she didn’t see any of it.

“I heard somebody yell for an ambulance.” Mallory shuddered. Holding our daughter, she paced back and forth in the entryway as people rushed in and out to help attend to victims—or to get a better look at the macabre scene still unfolding outside.

“That was me,” I said, trying to comfort her. “I was the guy you heard shouting.”

Mallory gazed up at me, her mouth open. She wiped her eyes, smearing mascara onto her cheeks.

“I saw the whole thing from right here. I didn’t want to go out and help because I didn’t want . . .” I paused and nodded at our daughter, lowering my voice. “I didn’t want this one to see that lady and all the, you know. B-L-O-O-D.”

Certain the young woman had been killed, I didn’t want our child to witness that first hand—or hear the screams from her friend, the shouts from the volunteers . . .

“I’m so glad you’re both safe.” Mallory hugged and kissed us both. She held back her emotions as best as she could. To go from terror to joy was a sudden turn, and no one could blame her for crying a little in the process.

Volunteers rushed in and out, getting towels and water for the victims’ wounds. We needed to move.

I scanned the winery. “Why don’t we . . . why don’t you take Sophie back into the lobby. I’ll go see if I can help outside.”

Mallory took a deep breath and nodded, appearing happy to get away from what she could see in the parking lot.

The police would probably want a statement from an eye witness when they arrived. I stepped out the door and made a slow circle around the crowd, thinking about ways I could help but not really wanting to see the dead woman or her friends’ injuries. With my hands in my pockets, I crept toward the wreckage that had been a peaceful parking lot moments before.

The young lady was on her back, surrounded by her friends and the volunteers, her yellow dress stained with blood. Several of the winery’s employees were administering makeshift bandages to the victims, using towels and cleaning cloths. The way the employees spoke to the victims was the way we’d been trained to when I was a life guard in high school. Keep them talking, keep telling them they’re okay, and do it in reassuring tones.

A man wearing a volunteer firefighter t-shirt kneeled closest to her. A barrel-chested man and a few other customers had jumped right into action when they heard me call for help. They seemed to know what they were doing, too. Calm voices. Several asked each other for a towel or water, addressing each other by name.

I hoped the girl had survived. It was incredible, to see her tossed into the air like a doll, then come crashing down between the two cars as they smashed together. I was sure there was no way she could have survived, and the streams of blood indicated I was right. With all the damage to the vehicles, and the way the truck plowed right into the people, it was difficult to think any of them had survived.

But they had.

Her friends had all miraculously escaped much harm. Bruises and a black eye for the one; a few scratches for the others. They stood vigil over their injured friend in the yellow dress as the volunteer firemen steered her away from going into shock and tried to keep her conscious.

She should be dead. Ironic, but she has no idea how lucky she is today. She won’t think that, but it’s true.

I had watched the whole thing. There was no way anybody should have survived it.

That’s when the realization struck me. It came with such blinding force that I blinked, unable to breathe.

This is how close you just came to getting killed, yourself. To having your insides splattered all over the side of the van.

I would have been sitting right between the cars, on the cooler, like we had planned…

Sophie probably would have been on my lap.

That made the air rush out of me. I put my hand out, knocking into some people, staggering to find a solid place to hold myself up. I leaned against one of the other cars in the lot, trying not to think about the possibilities, but they came rushing into my head anyway.

I turned away, but the image was already imprinted on my memory. Sophie would have been killed. My sweet little girl, dead.

Even if an adult could survive, could a child? Being smashed by a truck at full speed? They worry about kids becoming fatalities in 20 mile per hour crashes! There was just no way she would have made it.

I thought about our daughter being thrown into the air the way the young woman had been. The image caused an awful blackness to swell inside me. I wiped my eyes and forced myself to refocus. There might be help I could offer. Inbound cars full of customers, not aware of the accident that had just occurred, were trying to pull into the parking lot.

Where was the ambulance?

Employees directed traffic. Chairs were brought out to block the wreck area. I walked to the parking lot entrance to direct any new arrivals to the rear lot.

But I couldn’t help surveying the damage again.

The gray truck was buried a hundred yards into the vineyard. The sedan was crushed and turned around. Our rental van was demolished on one side. Glass was everywhere. Huge black tire marks showed the path the truck had taken, directly from its handicap spot to the sedan, then it had plowed up huge chunks of grass and dirt all the way to its resting place deep among the vines. A winery worker had gone over to help the driver.

Good idea. That old guy was probably having a heart attack when he did all this, and if he didn’t have one then, he might have one now.

The worker opened the truck door and reached inside. The driver, clad in drab clothes, came out of the vehicle. He fumbled a bit as he exited the pickup. Probably a concussion.

Steadying the old man, the employee produced two canes from the truck bed. The driver began to walk with them, hobbling toward the parking lot. He shrugged off the assistance from the worker, batting at his with one of the canes.

That was odd. The guy was just trying to help.

It was a curious moment, but I didn’t give it a second thought. Sirens in the distance indicated help was finally on the way.

I returned to the tasting room to give Mallory an update. She had commandeered a t-shirt display table as her command post and was already working on getting a replacement rental van. Whether she was working hard at distracting herself or already over the excitement, she looked busy. Considering our location, getting a replacement vehicle was no easy feat. Hillside winery was on the outskirts of town, and the town was practically on the outskirts of civilization. It was a three hour drive to the closest airport. That’s where the rental cars were.

“Sophie’s getting fussy.” Using the tasting room’s fireplace hearth for a seat, Mallory held her cell phone to her ear and bounced our daughter on her knee. “Why don’t you see if any of the stuff in the car is okay? The cooler and the snacks. Maybe we can get her something to eat.”

The winery only sold exotic cheeses and bottled water, and maybe some wine crackers. Our picky girl wouldn’t eat any of that.

“Okay,” I replied, and walked back out to the van.

I stepped around the glass and the blood soaked paper towels that had been discarded by paramedics. Somehow, getting into the van at this moment, with the young lady lying right there on the other side, it seemed . . . rude. While paramedics tended to her wounds, I was trying to get a snack.

I tried to make it less uncomfortable on myself by going to the driver’s side. As if I could have gotten into the passenger side anyway.

Opening the door shocked me.

The van’s interior was pristine. The wreckage to the outside was completely masked on the inside. There were broken windows but no bits of glass on the seats. No smashed bottles of wine. Nothing really out of place.

Outside, chaos, demolished metal and debris. Bloody victims groaning as emergency workers tended to them.

Inside, quiet and calm. The car was peaceful and . . . a little stuffy.

I reached in and grabbed the cooler. As a passing thought, I popped open the glove compartment and pulled out the rental contract paperwork. We’d be needing it.

As I stepped back and went to shut the door, it pushed back. It wouldn’t close. I stared at it for a moment. The impact of the crash must have twisted the support frame. I shook my head. How amazing that the wreck could bend the sturdy steel frame and not break a single glass wine bot—

A wave of nausea hit me. My head became uncomfortably warm, almost dizzy, and a queasy feeling swept through my gut. I put my hand on the side of the vehicle to steady myself, drawing deep breaths. The air outside was cool but in my nose and throat it felt stuffy, like the inside of the van a moment ago. I swallowed hard. All the excitement must have been getting to me.

“Excuse me.” A tall young man in a dark blue police uniform approached me.

I righted myself, taking another deep breath. “Yes, officer?”

He glanced at the van. “Is this your vehicle?”

“Yeah.” I looked it over. “What’s left of it.”

The queasiness wouldn’t leave. For a second, I thought I might throw up right in front of the officer. I swallowed hard, trying to force back the uneasy feeling.

“Are you okay, sir?”

I nodded. “I am. A little motion sickness. It’ll pass.” His name badge read SGT. TAGGART.

He watched me for a moment, then took out a notepad. “Did you see what happened?”

“Actually, I did.” Putting a fist to my lips like I was going to cough, I tried to assess whether the sick feeling was growing or passing. It did neither. Maybe talking would help. I pointed to the winery building. “I was right in the doorway, coming out into the parking lot. I saw the whole thing.”

Sergeant Taggart peered over my shoulder. Behind him, the drab old man used his two canes to slowly work his way back toward main building. The winery worker trailed a few steps behind him.

“We’re going to need you to make a statement. Would you mind?”

“No problem.”

“It’s going to be a few minutes since we have the situation with the other people . . .”

“Oh, I completely understand.” I said. “You go ahead and take care of that. I’ll be around when you’re ready.” I hooked a thumb at the van. “We aren’t going anywhere for a while.”

The old man and his canes hobbled through the grass and disappeared behind the building. Aside from the winery employee following him, nobody seemed to notice. Everyone’s focus seemed to be on the victims, and rightly so, but . . . With a quick change of clothes, he could practically disappear. The driver of the pickup truck that caused all the carnage could walk right through the parking lot and nobody would be the wiser.

The nausea swelled inside me and my ears began to ring.

“Well,” Taggart said. “Maybe we can call a wrecker for you and have one of our officers drive you to the rental car office in town.”

And get your snooping eyes out of here.

I didn’t hear the words as much as I felt them. The officer was no longer talking. My stomach churned harder and the ringing in my ears became a nonstop cymbal crash.

“That would be great!” He had to notice me sweating and my panting breath. “But, do whatever you need to first, with the other folks. I have to call our insurance and see how they want us to handle things.”

“Sure,” he said. “Just briefly—what did you see?” So I know which witness reports to file and which to misplace.

It was an overactive imagination run amok. Shock from the sight of the blood. Post traumatic stress, maybe. I was losing it.

I took another deep breath, trying to calm myself. “Well . . .”

At that moment, I noticed a slight color change in the officer’s face. It was nothing I should have noticed; it came and went in an instant. I could only think of it like a little flash of blue, disappearing as fast as lightning. As soon as I realized I was seeing it, it was already gone.

I shook my head. It was a trick of the light or I’m definitely losing it. Like that time we went digging for clams in the Indian River, I stepped on a sting ray and it sunk its barb into my toe. I was convinced I’d been cut by a piece of glass, but it wouldn’t stop bleeding and my whole leg swelled up. I was embarrassed, thinking I was going into shock over such a small cut—especially since I wasn’t excited or upset, like now. But it wasn’t shock, it was the poison. The sting ray stuck a little venom in me, making my leg throb in pain for an hour and balloon up in size. At the time I thought, how ridiculous, to go into shock from something like that. But people do. People die from shock, too. It wasn’t shock, though, and it eventually passed.

This was like that. Some sort of toxin got in my system. A bad piece of cheese or maybe dehydration. I got dehydrated at Disney World once, for Pete’s sake. I threw up five minutes after walking in the front gates. This had to be something like that.

I regained my thoughts. I recounted—briefly—to Officer Taggart the events as I had seen them. The pickup truck’s squealing wheels, the woman being thrown up in the air. I gestured to where things had happened, and how the pickup truck just never even slowed down.

When I finished, I summed it up: “It was like a teenager who was pissed off at his girlfriend, the way he squealed his wheels. Just burned rubber, right across the parking lot at those poor folks.”

Poor folks? That wouldn’t do in a statement.

The words seemed as if they were coming from the officer, but his mouth never moved and his face gave no indication he was even thinking such things.

Still, I felt uncomfortable near him.

“Yes, sir.” Taggart smiled. “I’ll have one of my officers come over and get your statement in just a few minutes.” He headed off to meet the tow trucks coming up the long driveway and glanced back at me. “Think about a wrecker. We’ve already called two for the other vehicles. A third’s no problem.”

I took the cooler into the winery lobby and felt instantly better, like stepping into air conditioning in summer after mowing the lawn. Relied washed through me.

Mallory was on her cell phone with the insurance company. “No, thank God, we weren’t hurt. They weren’t in the van at the time.”

I debated about whether to tell her about the blue lightning. She’d only conclude I was tired from all the excitement, which was probably right.

But she interrupted me before I could broach the subject.

 


ORIGINAL Chapter 5, An Angel On Her Shoulder

“Hey.”

One simple word could not have meant more to any other person ever in their entire lives.

Michele turned to the voice and saw me, her smiling husband, holding Savvy in my arms. She ran over and grabbed us both, hugging the two of us tighter than she ever had before. She closed her eyes, silently thanking God. Fear and panic immediately drained out of her body, and a wave of immense relief washed in.

In the winery doorway, the three of us embraced, a family reunited after only minutes, but to Michele it might as well have been hours. She began to cry.

I had smiled upon seeing my wife; now I was concerned.

“What’s the matter?”

“I didn’t know it wasn’t you” Michele began, looking up at me and then out to the parking lot. “I didn’t know you two were okay.” She fought back the tears. “I heard somebody yell for an ambulance and when I got to the window I saw somebody laying on the ground and her dress was the same color as Savvy’s…” She couldn’t continue. She buried her face in my chest.

“I’ve never been so scared!”

Now I understood. For several long minutes, while volunteers raced to offer help to the accident victims, Michele thought that Savvy and I were the victims. I looked out the doorway. The damage to the cars in the parking lot did a lot to fuel that impression.

The entire sedan was smashed like a soda can. The trunk was crumpled and the whole car had been forced around in a 180 so now the hood faced the winery and the trunk faced the vineyards. Our rental van was demolished. The side nearest the sedan was almost completely torn away.

Had we been sitting there for our picnic, we would have been killed.

 

Michele thought we had been.

 

But Savvy and I didn’t make it to the van. A distraction had slowed us just long enough to avoid the wreck; a little temper tantrum, but I had witnessed all the carnage. I had just opened the winery door when I saw the gray pickup truck squeal its wheels and launch across the parking lot like a rocket, right into the sedan.

 

“That was me,” I said, trying to comfort his wife. She looked up at me, confused. She blinked tears from her eyes.

 

“I was the guy you heard shouting for an ambulance,” I explained.

 

“I saw the whole thing from right here. I didn’t want to go out and help because I didn’t want – “ I paused and nodded at our daughter, lowering my voice – “I didn’t want this one to see that lady and all the, uh, you know…” then I spelled it: “B-L-O-O-D.” And I was certain the lady had been killed. I didn’t want our child to witness that first hand, either, or the screams from her friend, the shouts from the volunteers…

 

“I’m so glad you’re both safe,” Michele said, hugging and kissing us both. She held back her emotions as best as she could. To go from terror to joy was a sudden turn, and no one could blame her for crying a little in the process.

 

We moved from the doorway as volunteers rushed in and out, getting towels and water for the victims’ wounds.

 

“Why don’t we… why don’t you take Savvy back into the lobby and let me see if I can help,” I said. Michele obliged. “The police will probably want a statement when they get here. I’ll keep you posted.”

 

With that, I walked over to the wreckage that had been a peaceful parking lot moments before.

 

The lady was on her back, surrounded by her friends and the volunteers. Several of the winery’s employees were volunteer firemen, so they had jumped right into action when they heard me call for help.

 

I hoped she had survived. To see her body tossed like a doll into the air and come crashing down, and then get smashed between the two cars, I was sure there was no was she could have survived.

 

Her friends had all miraculously escaped much harm. Bruises and a black eye for the one; a few scratches for the others. They stood vigil over their injured friend as the volunteer firemen steered her away from going into shock and tried to keep her conscious.

 

She should be dead. Ironic, but she has no idea how lucky she is today. She won’t think that, but it’s true.

 

I had watched the whole thing. There was no way anybody could have survived it.

 

That’s when the emotion struck me. It came with such force that I blinked.

 

This is how close you just came to getting killed, yourself. To having your insides splattered all over the side of the van.

 

I would have been sitting right between the cars, on the cooler, like we had planned…

 

Savvy probably would have been on my lap.

 

That made the air rush out of me.

 

I turned away, but the image was already imprinted on my memory. Savvy would have been killed. Even if an adult could survive, could a child? Being smashed by a truck at full speed? They worry about kids becoming fatalities in 20 mile per hour crashes! There was just no way she would have made it.

 

I thought about our daughter being thrown into the air like a doll, the way the woman had been. Then I made myself refocus. There might be help I could offer. Inbound cars full of customers, not aware of the accident that had just occurred, were trying to pull into the parking lot.

 

Where was the ambulance?

 

Employees directed traffic. Chairs were brought out to block the wreck area. I surveyed the damage.

 

The gray van was buried a hundred yards into the vineyard. The sedan was crushed and turned around. Our rental van was demolished on one side. Glass was everywhere. Huge black tire marks showed the path the truck had taken, directly from its handicap spot to the sedan, then plowed up huge chunks of grass and dirt all the way to its resting place deep among the vines. A winery worker had gone over to help the driver. Good idea, I thought. That old guy was probably having a heart attack when he did all this, and if he didn’t have one then, he might have one now. The worker helped the driver, a man clad in drab clothes. They fumbled a bit as he exited the pickup.

 

Maybe he has a concussion, I thought. The worker steadied the driver. Two canes were produced from the truck bed. The driver began to walk with them, toward the parking lot. He shrugged off the assistance from the worker.

 

Odd. The guy’s just trying to help.

 

It was a curious moment, but I didn’t give it a second thought. Sirens could be heard in the distance. Help was finally on the way.

 

I returned to the winery to give Michele an update. She was already thinking about getting a replacement rental van – no easy feat, considering our location. The winery was on the outskirts of town, and the town was practically on the outskirts of civilization. It was a three hour drive to the closest airport. That would be where rental cars were.

 

“Savvy’s getting fussy,” Michele commented. “Why don’t you see if the stuff in the car is okay, the cooler and the snacks, and we can get her something to eat.”

 

The winery only sold exotic cheeses and bottled water, and maybe some wine crackers.

 

“Okay,” I replied, and walked back out to the van.

 

I stepped around the glass and the blood soaked paper towels that had been discarded by paramedics. Somehow, getting into the van at this moment, with the lady lying right there on the other side, it seemed… rude. While others were tending to her wounds, I was getting a snack. I tried to make it less uncomfortable on myself by going to the driver’s side. As if I could have gotten into the passenger side anyway.

 

Opening the door shocked me.

 

It was pristine inside. The wreckage on the outside was completely masked on the inside. There was cracked glass, but no bits of broken glass on the seats. No blood. No smashed bottles of wine everywhere. Nothing really out of place. Outside, victims groaned as emergency workers tended to them. Inside, the car was still and… a little stuffy. I grabbed the cooler. As a passing thought, I popped open the glove compartment and pulled out the rental contract paperwork. We’d be needing it.

 

As I stepped back and went to shut the door, it pushed back. It would not close. I looked at it for a moment. The impact must have twisted the frame, and now everything’s probably out of alignment. How amazing that the wreck could bend the sturdy steel frame and not break the glass wine bottles.

 

“Excuse me,” came a voice, interrupting my thought. I turned to see a tall young man in a dark blue police uniform.

 

“Yes, officer?”

 

“Is this your vehicle?” The officer asked.

 

“Yeah,” I said, looking over the van. “What’s left of it.”

 

“Did you see what happened?”

 

“Actually, I did.” I said. “I was right in the doorway, coming out into the parking lot when it happened. I saw the whole thing.”

 

The officer glanced over my shoulder. Behind him, the drab old man used his two canes to slowly work his way back to the winery. The worker walked behind, ready just in case.

 

“Okay, the officer replied, turning his eyes back to me. “We’re going to need you to make a statement. Would you mind?”

 

“No problem.”

 

“It’s going to be a few minutes since we have the situation with the other people involved…”

 

“Hey, officer; I completely understand.” I said. “You go ahead and take care of everybody you need to take care of. I’ll be around when you’re ready.” I hooked a thumb at the van. “We aren’t going anywhere for a while.”

 

The old man and his canes disappeared behind the building. Few, if any, of the customers knew him; with a quick change of clothes he could practically disappear. He could walk right through the parking lot where they were gathered and nobody would be the wiser.

 

His friends on the force would see to that.

 

“Yeah,” the officer replied. “Maybe we can call a wrecker for you and have one of our officers drive you to the rental car office in town.” And get your snooping eyes out of here.

 

“That would be great!” I said. What a friendly gesture. “But, do whatever you need to first, with the other folks. I have to call our insurance and see how they want us to handle things.”

 

“Sure,” he said. “Just briefly, what did you see?” So I know which reports to file and which to misplace.

 

“Well,” I began. At that moment, I noticed a slight color change in the officer’s face. It was nothing I should have noticed; it came and went in an instant. I could only think of it like a little flash of blue, that came and went as fast as lightning. As soon as I realized I was seeing it, it was already gone.

 

Strange.

 

I regained my thoughts. I recounted – briefly, for a wordy writer like me – the events as I had seen them. The pickup truck’s squealing wheels, the woman being thrown up in the air. I gestured to where things had happened, and how the pickup truck just never even slowed down.

 

When I finished, I summed it up: “It was like a teenager who was pissed off at his girlfriend, the way he squealed his wheels. Just burned rubber, right across the parking lot at those poor folks.”

 

Poor folks? That wouldn’t do in a statement, the officer thought.

 

“Yes, sir,” the officer replied. “I will have one of my officers come over and get your statement in just a few minutes.” Then he turned to walk back to meet the tow trucks that were coming up the long driveway. He looked back at me. “Think about a wrecker.” He motioned over at them. “We’ve already called in two for the other vehicles.”

 

He smiled. “A third’s no problem.” Control the vehicles, control the story.

 

Control the story, contain the damage.

 

That might result in another nice bonus from Mr Hill.

 

I took the cooler into the winery lobby. Michele was on her cell phone with the insurance company. I overheard her saying things like, no thank God, we weren’t hurt, they weren’t in the van at the time. I debated about whether to tell his wife about the blue lightning. I decided against it. She’d only decide I was tired from all the excitement, and she was probably right. That, or I was crazy.

 

But she interrupted me before I could broach the subject.


ANALYSIS

Let’s look at a few examples and see how well the emotional stuff worked in the final version.

  • When Mallory says, “I’ve never been so scared!” in the original version, does she ACT like she is suddenly relieved? Maybe, but not as much as she does in the final.
  • Does Doug’s queasiness help with the believability of the voice he hears in the Final version better than the way it happens in the original?
  • SPOILER: Do the symptoms Doug experiences with Sergeant Taggart and the voices tie back to when he was a kid and the crazy man at the park was getting ready to attack him? Or when he was in church and nearly passed out? You can so no if it didn’t, but I’m trying to link them without being overly obvious. Doug doesn’t ties them together yet, either.

And as far as emotion, there can be more! You get to decide how much is enough. Paint it on thick and let beta readers tell you to scale back. Usually there’s not enough. Except crying. We end to overdo the crying. Don’t go crazy with that.

Okay, one last thing.

Cliffhanger endings and grabber openings.

You can give almost any chapter a cliffhanger ending, just ask a good question that the reader has to keep reading to find the answer to. (Click HERE to see a world famous author who has been doing it for years.)

At the end of chapter 1, we had Mallory in a near panic, wondering if her husband and daughter had just been killed. That’s a big cliffhanger.

Here, we had a small one. What did Mallory say to interrupt Doug? Still gotta turn the page to find out.

Pianoing Your Reader

Oh, and that big cliffhanger at the winery wreck? I made you wait quite a while to find out what happened. Did you forget? Did you relax about it ? And then when you saw adult Doug at the winery and his daughter in the yellow dress, were you reading like hell to see if they got killed?

If you said yes to any of those, your author was playing you like a piano. You can do that. I just showed you how.

Come back tomorrow. There’s more.

Now:

head shot
your humble host

Let me have your comments. The next chapter will post tomorrow but they will ALL come down shortly after February 15, so don’t dawdle! (To start at Chapter 1, click HERE, the prior chapter is HERE)

You are readers, too. Your input will shape the final product. Be honest.

Please share and reblog these as we go. Your friends need to know this stuff, too.

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the amazingly great sci fi action thriller “The Navigators.” Click HERE to get your copy of The Navigators – $2.99 or FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

Available in paperback and audio book, too!

 

7 thoughts on “Adding Emotions To Your Scene

  1. What I liked more about the first version here, was that I felt more of the subplots being woven in so that once we knew the family was “okay” there was an element of perhaps they were not. What DID you see???? So whether or not there is some creepy energy to follow with the police, the driver of the speeding vehicle, etc. I felt there might be and therefore, was ready to turn that page. Oh, and the keeping me waiting to learn the fate of Doug and Sophie? *open mouth, insert hook*

    Liked by 1 person

    • This was tricky. I’m not sure how much of the “creepy energy” stuff a reader needs to connect the dots – because in a later scene you need to remember it. I might have underdone it or overdone it here!

      Either way, when that scene comes, I’ll see you/ the beta readers’ reactions and have a better idea of how much I needed here, and I’ll tweak this scene.

      That’ll be a side note to myself, along with a few others, that I’ll be leaning on betas and CPs for some guidance.

      Liked by 1 person

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