Don’t Get EMOTIONAL! Okay, do. A lot.

coverUsing 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.)

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.

WRITING EMOTIONS

In this chapter what I want you to do is open two windows and look at each paragraph side by side. Look at the original version, with its few emotions, and how it reads. Then look at the words and phrases I added in the Final version and get its feel.

But first, just read the chapter – to enjoy the story. (We rearranged the opening paragraphs, so don’t get thrown by that.)


Chapter 37 “FINAL”

“Dad, what’s that noise?” My daughter sat on the floor at the foot of the bed, playing with her Barbies.

“It’s rain coming down hard on the roof.” I pulled an extra shirt from the closet. “What does it sound like growling? Or purring?”

“Purring.”

Good answer. I don’t want her to be scared.

“I think it sounds like purring, too. We’re not afraid of some rain, are we?”

“No.”

Right answer, wrong tone. She was nervous.

“C’mere.” I exited the closet and squatted down, letting her fall into my open arms. I rubbed her back as she wrapped her little arms around my neck. “I won’t let anything happen to you.”

She lifted her head and peered over my shoulder, whispering. “When’s it gonna stop?”

I turned and stared at the swaying oaks, their limbs flailing wildly in the nonstop wind and rain. “Soon.”

I got up and patting her head, trying to act natural and avoid getting everyone more scared than they already were. The plan was simple. Make a quick stop at Tyree’s office to pick up the relic cross, get back home to finish packing, and head out of town tomorrow morning. Aside from a little rain and wind, what could be simpler?

To answer my question, the wind slammed another band of rain onto the roof. I flinched. Maybe Sophie should be playing downstairs.

I grabbed the last t-shirt I wanted and stuffed it into my bag, heading for the stairs. “Come on, honey. Let’s play down here.”

Our garage was a separate structure, attached to our house by a breezeway—a little roof section that went to a side door and offered almost no protection when the rain was falling  sideways. With Sophie parked in front of the TV, I ran the short distance from the back door to the garage door, through the torrents of rain. Hitting the button to open the overhead door, I squeezed past Mallory’s car to mine.

Dripping only from my head, I slipped the key into the Navigator’s ignition and turned it. It’s big engine groaned a little, instead of the usual growl of a V-8, then nothing.

I glared at the dashboard indicator lights. “Don’t tell me . . .”

I gritted my teeth and twisted the key again. This time, a series of clicks emanated from under the hood, then silence.

I mean, nothing.

Dead battery.

I grabbed the steering wheel with both hands and shook it. “What the hell? What the hell!” I pounded my fist into the center console. “Is that voodoo priestess sapping my good luck already?”

The wind whipped up again, the howls coming to me a little too clearly to have been obscured by a closed up vehicle. I twisted around to inspect the inside of the car. The rear passenger door was open. I had it open yesterday when I was putting the flashlights into the car, but I got distracted when Tyree drove up, and I never shut it. The light being on all night drained the old car’s battery.

“Ohhhhhh.” I laid my head on the steering wheel and shut my eyes. “How could I be so stupid?”

That’s a nice little delay there, Mr. Planner.

I put my elbow on the window and rubbed my eyes, working to control my rising blood pressure. No problem. We had jumper cables, and Mallory’s car battery would be fine to supply a charge to mine. I’d just hook ‘em up and get a jump, then get over to Tyree’s.

Which would be easy on a normal day. Just back the two cars out of the garage and hook up the jumper cables. But in this insane wind and rain, I’d get soaked.

Maybe electrocuted to boot. Bad plan.

I sat in my car tapping the steering wheel. If I just backed both cars out a few feet, I could get access the battery from the front and still be inside the garage. I could hook up the cables and get the Navigator started without getting wet. It would take a few minutes, but it would work.

I’ll just call him and let him know I’ll be late.

Good plan. I ran back through the rain to the house for Mallory’s keys.

A little wetter, I called Tyree—no answer. I left a message and turned my sights back on the cars.

I ran back to the garage through the rain. I told myself it was faster than using the breezeway door and even though I was halfway soaked, having made three trips through the rain, I would have been just as wet going the other route.

I could still get the car jumped without becoming fully soaked, though, and without getting electrocuted.

I backed up Mallory’s car, and left it running. Then I hopped in my car and put it in neutral, hopped back out and pushed it a few feet. Grabbing the jumper cables, I hooked up the two batteries.

I let the cars sit for a moment to help charge the Navigator, using the time to fling water from my arms and hair. Then I jumped back into my car to turn on the ignition.

No car keys.

Where the hell did they go?

I stared at the ignition in disbelief. I had the freaking keys a minute ago when I put the stupid car in neutral and pushed it back. I checked my pockets. Nope. Not there . . .

Maybe I dropped them.

I threw open the door and jumped out, scouring the ground. I retraced my steps: got in the car, turned on the ignition, pushed the car back. I thought I left the keys in the ignition.

I looked at the clock on the wall. I was already 20 minutes late to get to Tyree’s. I scowled and checked my pockets again, ready to pull the linings out.

Where are those keys?

I looked under both cars. I looked in Mallory’s car, which was still running. I looked inside the open hood of the Navigator.

I glared at the house, only a few wet feet away. A spare set of keys hung on a hook in the hallway.

I checked my pockets again. Maybe the keys would appear on the third pat down. Nope.

With a sigh of frustration I ran through the rain again, cursing the voodoo priestess for foreclosing on my luck already. Dripping wet, I sloshed to the hallway and grabbed the keys, stomping back through the rain to the cars.

Steaming mad and soaking wet, I seriously considered stripping before climbing into the Navigator. I was drenched, and I’d get the seats drenched, too. Then I’d have to sit on wet seats the whole way to Atlanta. There was no way they’d dry out overnight. Not in this weather.

I stripped.

My underwear was still partially dry on the butt, so I didn’t have to go totally commando. I yanked open the driver’s door to the Navigator, and climbed in. As I went to grab a fast food napkin from the stash inside the center console to dry my face, I glanced at the cup holders.

There were my keys.

I pounded the wheel, lucky my daughter couldn’t hear me over the howling wind. How did I not see that on three separate checks? What is wrong with me?

I turned the key, and my Navigator roared to life.

I closed my eyes and sat back. Thank you.

I sat for a moment, wet and nearly naked, considering my next moves. It made sense to go back inside and get into some dry clothes. And to use an umbrella for the return trip to the car. Then I just needed to call Tyree and tell him I was finally on the way—after I dried off and changed clothes.

I stared at the garage clock. I was now an hour late.

Inside the house, I left another message for Tyree and dug an umbrella out of the hall closet—but didn’t fully open it. If I held it close to my head like a giant hat, I could keep some rain off me without the wind ripping the umbrella open and tearing it to pieces. Opened fully, the massive gusts of wind would pop it upside down and rip the rainproof nylon from their little steel ribs.

I was bothered when Tyree didn’t answer. The power was probably out, which happened at our house all the time in big storms, but still. The dull ache growing in my stomach wasn’t from hunger. The cell towers were down in his area. That happened during the last hurricane, too.

I gripped the wheel tightly as I drove, leaning forward toward the windshield to see. The rain came down so hard the wipers barely made a difference. There would be a lot of wrecks from people who couldn’t see in this kind of rain. Add in the sudden wind gusts and drivers would feel like the steering wheel was being ripped from their hands. Next thing you know, they’re driving into a tree a hundred feet from the road.

But for now, I had some flashlights in case the power was out at Tyree’s office. That was about it.

The rain was like driving in a waterfall. The wind banged away at my car, pushing it into the gutter one moment and over the center line the next. I squeezed the wheel harder, fighting to maintain control and driving slow.

Tyree’s relic cross had better be worth all this effort.

The twenty minute drive took nearly twice that. As I pulled into the business park near the airport where Tyree kept his office, the flashing lights of emergency vehicles streamed across the lot. Lots of them.

I pounded the wheel and cursed. More delays.

My windshield wipers swiped away the torrents of rain, refilling instantly like some kid was on the roof pouring buckets down the glass.

I double checked the address he’d given me. Police and fire rescue vehicles were blocking access to half of the buildings.

I figured I could probably park and then walk around the cop cars to Tyree’s office.

“Hey!” A loud shout assaulted my ear. I jumped, turning to the voice.

A police officer in a poncho rapped his knuckles on my window. “That way.” He waved a red-tipped flashlight in the direction of the other end of the lot. “You can park over there. This area is blocked.”

I nodded and pulled around to the left, grabbing for the umbrella. It wouldn’t do much good in this rain—the swirling winds would smack me from all sides and I’d be drenched in two minutes—but hopefully I could get to Tyree’s unit.

Bracing my umbrella against the wind, I made my way up to the traffic officer and shouted over the howling storm. “I need to get into one of these units for a meeting.”

He looked at me like I was crazy. “In this weather?” His poncho clung to his frame, glued there by the incessant rushing wind. “I hope it’s important. What unit number?”

“I was just thinking that I should reschedule,” I said. “I’m starting to think that nothing’s important enough to be out in this.”

The cop nodded.

My umbrella smacked me in the head with each gust of wind. Digging the address out of my pocket, I read it to him. “Building 8, unit 8191.”

He shook his head, squinting against the stinging rain. “No can do. That’s the building they’re here for.”

My stomach lurched.

He pointed his red flashlight at the squad cars. “A break in. Pretty nasty. I don’t know what unit, though. I just got pulled in to help with traffic.”

“Okay, thanks.”

A huge rush of wind up-ended my umbrella, ripping it from my hands and tossing it down the road. In an instant, it was a hundred yards away and still moving.

I rubbed my stomach and glanced at the officer. “Is it okay if I check with the investigating officers, to see if I can get into this unit?” I pointed at Tyree’s business card.

“You can try.” He nodded. “Ask for officer Neil. He’s in charge.”

As I walked up, I could see the firemen hosing down the remains of a burned out car. The office building was roped off with plastic crime scene tape, but it had already ripped apart and now flapped in the wind like parade streamers.

The door to the burglarized office laid flat on the grass, completely broken off its hinges. I stood on tiptoes at the yellow crime scene tape, craning my neck to read the unit number on the door.

It was 8191. Tyree’s office.


 

Original Chapter 37, An Angel On Her Shoulder

 

The plan was simple.

Make a quick stop at Tyree’s office to pick up the relic cross, get back home to finish packing, and head out of town tomorrow morning. Aside from a little rain and wind, what could be simpler?

The rain was really pounding on the roof.

“Dad, what’s that noise?” my daughter asked, looking up from her Barbies.

“It’s rain coming down hard on the roof.” I said. “What does it sound like growling? Or purring?”

“Purring.” She replied. Good answer. I don’t want her to be scared.

“I think it sounds like purring, too. We’re not afraid of some rain, are we?”

“No,” she answered solemnly. Right answer, wrong tone. She was nervous.

“C’mere,” I said, squatting down to give her a hug. “I won’t let anything happen to you.”

She looked out the window and saw the wind whipping the trees something fierce. “When’s it gonna stop?”

“Soon.”

The garage was a separate structure, attached to our house by a little breezeway – a little covering that went to a side door and offered almost no protection when the rain was blowing in sideways like now. So I just ran the short distance from the back door to the garage door, through the torrents of rain. I hit the button to open the overhead garage door opener as I went in, and squeezed past Michele’s car to mine. The light coming into the garage made me miss the little light on my car’s ceiling when I opened the driver’s door and got in. I didn’t notice it until I put the key in the Navigator’s ignition and turned it.

The engine groaned a little, instead of the usual growl of its V-8; then nothing.

 

The car didn’t start. I tried the ignition again.

Even worse. Click, click, click… then nothing. I mean, nothing.

Dead battery.

What the hell? Is the voodoo priestess sapping my good luck already?

I looked around. The rear passenger door was open. I had it open yesterday when I was putting the flashlights into the car, but I got distracted when Tyree drove up. I never shut it. The light being on all night drained the car’s battery.

“Ohhhhhh,” I moaned, laying my head on the steering wheel. How could I be so stupid?

That’s a nice little delay there, Mr Planner.

We had jumper cables, and Michele’s car battery would be fine to supply a charge; I’d just hook ‘em up and get a jump, then get on over to Tyree’s.

Which would be easy on a normal day. Just back the two cars out of the garage and hook up the jumper cables.

But in this strong wind and rain, I’d get soaked. Maybe electrocuted to boot. Bad plan.

I thought about it for a minute. If I just backed both cars out a few feet, I could get access the battery front and still be inside the garage. I could hook up the cables and get the Navigator started, then head over to Tyree’s without getting too wet. It would take a few minutes, but it would work. I’ll just call him and let him know I’ll be late.

Good plan. I ran back through the rain to get Michele’s car keys.

I called Tyree’s cell phone from the land line phone in the house, but he didn’t answer. I left a message and turned my sights back on the cars. Time to get things going.

I ran back to the garage through the rain. It was faster than using the breezeway door on the side of the house, but now I was now halfway soaked, having made three trips through the rain instead of one. I could still get the car jumped without becoming fully soaked, though, and without getting electrocuted.

I backed up Michele’s car, and left it running. Then I hopped in my car and put it in neutral. I hopped back out and pushed it back a few feet. Then I grabbed the jumper cables and hooked up the batteries.

I let the cars sit for a moment, to charge the Navigator. Then I jumped back into my car to turn on the ignition.

Nope.

No car keys.

Where the hell did they go?

I had them a minute ago when I put the car in neutral and pushed it back. I checked my pockets. Nope; not there…

I stepped out and looked on the ground; maybe I dropped them. I retraced my steps: got in the car, turned on the ignition so I could push the car back; I thought I left the keys in the ignition.

I looked at the time. I was already 20 minutes late to get to Tyree’s. I hate being late, but we didn’t have a firm set time. Still… I checked my pockets again.

Damn it, where are those keys?

I looked under both cars. I looked in Michele’s car, which was still running. I looked in the open hood of the Navigator; maybe I set the keys on the engine frame, or on the bumper.

I looked back at the house, only a few wet feet away. There was a spare set of keys hanging on a hook in the hallway.

I checked my pockets again. Maybe the keys would appear on the third pat down. Nope.

With a sigh of frustration I ran through the rain again, cursing the voodoo priestess for foreclosing on my luck already. Dripping wet, I walked to the hallway and grabbed the keys, and ran again through the rain to the cars.

I seriously considered stripping before climbing into the Navigator. I was drenched, and I’d get the seats drenched, too. Then I’d have to sit on wet seats the whole way to Atlanta. There was no way they’d dry out overnight. Not in this weather.

I stripped.

My underwear was still partially dry, on the butt, so I didn’t have to go totally commando. I opened the driver’s door to the Navigator, and climbed in. As I went to grab a fast food napkin from the stash inside the center console to dry my face, I glanced at the cup holders.

There were my keys.

Damn it! How did I not see that on three separate checks? What is wrong with me?

I turned the key, and my Navigator roared to life. Thank you, Jesus!

I sat for a moment, wet and nearly naked, laying out my next moves. Undo the cables, turn off Michele’s car… put the cables back in the Navigator in case we had another dead battery episode on the way to Atlanta…

It made sense to go back inside and get into some dry clothes. And to use an umbrella for the return trip to the car. Otherwise, I just needed to call Tyree and tell him I was finally on the way. After I dried off and changed.

I was now an hour late.

I left another message for Tyree from the house phone, and dug an umbrella out of the hall closet. If I didn’t open it fully, and held it close to my head like a giant hat, I could use it without the wind ripping it open and tearing it. Open full, the gusts of wind would pop it upside down and rip the rainproof nylon from their little steel ribs.

It didn’t bother me that Tyree didn’t answer; the power was probably out. Our power went out all the time in big storms. Maybe the cell towers were down in his area. Some of them have backup generators, but not all of them; and sometimes out means out, as in, the tower has been blown to the ground. It’s rare, but it happens in hurricane speed winds – and these gusts weren’t messing around. When it happened to us a few years ago, we couldn’t get any phone calls or messages, and then we got all of our cell phone messages at once when the phone finally got a signal again.

There would be a lot of wrecks, too, from people who couldn’t see in this hard rain. Add in the sudden wind gusts and the driver will feel like the steering wheel is being ripped from his hands. Next thing you know, he’s driving into a tree a hundred feet from the road.

But for now, I had some flashlights in case the power was out over at Tyree’s office. That was about it.

The rain was terrible. We always get big downpours in Florida; residents are used to them, but the tourists will drive with their emergency flashers on, hoping that will somehow help. It doesn’t. Well, it lets the natives know you’re from up north and can’t drive in this stuff.

The wind was really banging away at my car. I drove slowly to keep control, wondering if getting Tyree’s relic cross was really worth all the effort.

The twenty minute drive took nearly twice that.

As I pulled into the business park near the airport where Tyree kept his office, I saw the flashing lights of emergency vehicles.

Lots of them.

I double checked the address Tyree had given me; they were parked in front of his building, but there were four offices or more in each building. The police cars blocked the parking; beyond them was a fire truck.

“Hey!” a loud voice said, rapping his knuckles on my window. It was a cop.

“That way,” he directed. “You can park over there.” He pointed to my left. “This way is blocked.”

I pulled around to the left and grabbed the umbrella. It wouldn’t do much good in this rain; the wind would smack me from all sides and I’d be wet in two minutes. But hopefully I could get to Tyree’s unit.

I walked up to the officer directing traffic, bracing my umbrella against the wind.

“I need to get into one of these units for a meeting.” I shouted over the howling rain.

He looked at me like I was crazy. “In this weather?” he shouted back. “I hope it’s important! What unit number?”

“I was just thinking that I should reschedule,” I said. “I’m starting to think that nothing’s important enough to be out in this.” The cop nodded. I dug the address out of my pocket and read it to him. “Building 8, unit 8191.”

He looked at me and slowly shook his head. “That’s the building they’re here for,” he said, motioning to the squad cars. “A break in. Pretty nasty. I don’t know what unit, though. I just got pulled in to help with traffic.”

“Okay, thanks,” I said. Just then, a big gust of wind up-ended my umbrella, ripping it from my hands and tossing it fifty feet down the road.

“Is it okay if I check with the investigating officers, to see if I can get into this unit?” I pointed at the business card.

“You can try,” he said, motioning to the squad cars. “Ask for officer Neil. He’s in charge.”

As I walked up, I could see the firemen hosing down the remains of a burned out car. The office building was roped off, but the plastic crime scene tape was already tearing off in the wind. From behind what was left of it, I could see the door to the office that had been robbed. It was hanging almost sideways, broken off its hinges.

It was unit 8191. Tyree’s office.


ANALYSIS

Look at the difference a few words make.

Open a door versus throw open a door, or yank it open. Slam the console. Suddenly everything is “freaking this” and “stupid that.” Stomp instead of run.

All of these changed words add emotion in a demonstrative way – as in, these are what an angry person does.

You show the emotion instead of saying “I’m so mad!” (Although it doesn’t hurt to have an occasional internal thought saying just that, too.)

Painting by numbers.

At the stat of the first draft of this chapter, I wanted to tell what happened. In the second draft, I removed dialogue tags and filters, added beats, things like that.

THEN I went back and tried to add angry words and actions. Harsher verbs. Pounding stuff.

Doug is getting intense. He’s wound up. You see it as opposed to being told it, and as a result you are more immersed in the story.

Let your story rest and then paint that stuff in. It makes a difference.

It adds, as Chekhov said, the glint off the glass.

Now:

head shot
your humble host

Let me have your comments. The next chapters will post tomorrow but they will ALL come down shortly after February 15, so don’t dawdle!

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

Share and reblog these! 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 of FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

Available in paperback and audio book, too!

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Don’t Get EMOTIONAL! Okay, do. A lot.

  1. Probably because I could picture myself in the car situation, I felt more emotion in this chapter than in the one with the Priestess… I actually glanced over to where MY van’s keys were, as I listened to the rain hitting my roof. Well played! Oh, Tyree’s office break in… I am not comfortable with this thread

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yep the more emotional words in here the better. There is pre storm weather hitting and he has to get to Tyree’s, the battery dies, he remembers his fault. He’s under stress, everything plays up and then he gets to Tyree’s and its a wtf!!! moment. The door has been torn off? What the hell has the strength to do that, black angels? Or someone controlled by them, taking away the only defense against them. The cross?

    Liked by 1 person

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