At what time of the day do you prefer to write? Do you have a choice as to when you do your writing or are you limited by a day job and other important responsibilities? Constraints can be a problem since writers often have unusually strong preferences for when they like to get the work done. In fact, it may go beyond being just a preference. There is good evidence from creativity research that people function best at certain times of the day, and what time that is varies on an individual basis.
Writers can use hours of the day when little is happening. The need for a more certain income may leave them no choice. (Image: public domain.)
We read books to enrich our emotional lives by living vicariously through the moving experiences of a novel’s characters. (Image: public domain.)
Writers should never underestimate the novel’s vitally important role as an emotional mechanism. A novel is a “device” to make people feel. Therefore, when planning and writing each scene we need to ask ourselves what emotion we wish to arouse in the reader and toward which character or setting we want to direct the feeling. Paying attention to these two tasks will ensure each scene has the right kind of well-focussed emotion. Our scenes will seem satisfying and have weight.
How do we handle the novel’s cerebral aspects, its ideas? Most people are not intellectually inclined and even fewer enjoy a sermon. Readers will not tolerate long-winded theoretical or ideological explanations. We must transmit all content of an intellectual nature to the reader via the “carrier wave” of feelings. As we search for some emotional way to convey an idea, we should keep in mind that all thoughts carry a mood or feeling just as all emotions have thoughts for companions. The human mind stores its information in what the scientists call emotional-cognitive structures. Note carefully the term’s hybrid nature, the blend of feeling and idea. By wrapping our ideas in a suitable emotional package, we can deliver them to all readers.
The most powerful way to depict setting is with telling details that affect and influence characters in the same way as does plot. The technique adds unity by tying the setting to the story’s characters. They are not just in the setting; they are interacting with it. How characters respond emotionally to the setting allows readers to identify and empathize with them. We all know what it is like to enjoy or dislike a particular place. When writers have their characters tell what they feel, readers will, based on their own personal preferences, agree or disagree. Either way, their feelings are engaged.
You can develop a character by showing how he or she reacts to your setting and why. (Image: public domain.)