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The Psychology of Emotions — Guest: Kassandra Lamb

Paper torn to reveal a drawn heart with text: The Psychology Behind Emotions

We usually want to keep the reader immersed in the story and keep readers’ interest by engaging their emotions. But when we understand the psychology driving emotions, we might be able to make those emotions more realistic or recognize when there’s a disconnect on a character’s emotional journey.

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November 18, 2014

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NaNo Prep: Are You Ready to Start Drafting?

Screenshot of a blank Scrivener project with text: Are You Ready to Start Drafting?

It’s almost time for NaNoWriMo, when thousands of writers will try to cram 50,000 words into a 30-day deadline. If you’re doing NaNo and anything like me, you might be freaking out a little as November nears. Although this is my third year with NaNo, this will be my first time doing it “for really-real.”

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October 16, 2014

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The Character Debate: Strong and Vulnerable?

Movie promo image of Gamora with text: Can a Character Be Strong and Vulnerable?

If we want our protagonists to seem heroic, they need to have strong traits. Yet at the same time, if we want our protagonists to be relatable, they need have vulnerabilities. This is never an easy balance, especially when clichés fill our heads about what a “strong character” means.

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August 14, 2014

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How to Use Layers to Show Intense Emotions

Stack of terracotta tiles with text: 3 Steps to Using Layers to Write Intense Emotions

A “numb” reaction isn’t unusual for dark or deep emotions. In fact, it’s probably fairly normal. But it makes writing the scene more difficult. How do we show numb and deep emotions at the same time? How can readers connect to an emotionless character?

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July 1, 2014

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The Danger of Political Correctness for Diverse Books

Magnetic desk toy with various colors of human figures with text: We Need Diverse Ideas

Diverse books are important—not simply for the sake of diversity—but so that by sheer number of representations, any one type of character isn’t limited to a stereotype. The truth is that we are all diverse. No one stereotypical character will ever represent us, no matter our color, nationality, or background.

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June 3, 2014

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How Can We Show a Character’s Internal Journey?

Trees growing over road with text: Our Character's Internal Journey

I’m a big fan of Michael Hauge’s approach to characters. His insights helped me figure out how to match a character’s internal journey to the external plot. This is often tricky, though, so let’s go deeper into how characters change.

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May 15, 2014

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What’s the Perfect Job for Our Characters?

Employee Only sign with text: Finding the Perfect Job (for Our Characters)

If we write our story well, every aspect of the story will contribute to the overall picture and create an impression for the reader. There aren’t any unimportant details in a well-written story. And that means the careers for our characters shouldn’t be an afterthought either.

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April 29, 2014

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Can Genre Fiction Be “Art”?

Piet Mondrian's "Composition with Red Blue Yellow" with text: Can Genre Fiction Be "Art"?

We have a hard time defining literary fiction. Society gives us assumptions on the relative value of genre vs. literary fiction, but those assumptions miss the point. Assigning value judgments to the labels “literary” and “genre” doesn’t make sense because preferences are subjective opinions and there’s no “better” or “worse.”

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April 17, 2014

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