The Pink Heart Society is very pleased to welcome award winning author Cheryl St John who has just written Writing with Emotional Tension and Conflict, a book about adding emotion to your writing. It is sure to become a must-read classic!
Peeling back the layers of a splendid plot is like taking the back off a perfectly synchronized watch and seeing all the tiny gears and springs working in unison. One piece can’t work without the others, but each has its own specific and vital function. When we understand why certain stories work so well, we can understand the beauty and harmony of characters and plot. I’ve always been fascinated by revealing those mysteries, and a big part of the discovery is understanding and appreciating human nature.
I googled “most popular television series” and got a partial list of Sopranos, Seinfeld, All in the Family, M*A*S*H, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mad Men, Cheers, The West Wing, I Love Lucy, The Dick Van Dyke Show and Hill Street Blues. Just looking at these I can tell you the common denominators are the diverse and interesting casts of characters. Right now the most popular show in IMDb is The Walking Dead. I get some strange looks when I mention that The Walking Dead is one of my favorite shows, but I can tell you why the ratings are up there. The show is not about zombies.
It’s about a cast of everyday characters assembled in a world gone crazy, who fight for their lives and each other’s lives every day. It’s about survival. It’s the epitome of taking ordinary people and putting them in extraordinary circumstances, then watching heroes and villains develop. I’ve also just described The Hunger Games, Downton Abbey, Glee, Under the Dome, Revolution, and any number of hits.
It took me years to figure out some of this stuff. Maybe I’m a slow learner, but to give myself some slack, there wasn’t always an information super highway. I was a hungry beginner, attending workshops, hanging on every word of advice, collecting handouts, and eventually figuring out which advice was sound and which didn’t work for me. I had great teachers, for whom I’m thankful, and from them I learned to show other writers how to apply techniques to their own writing. For years I gave workshops, critiqued, and wrote articles, not actually thinking that one day I might put it all into a book.
It wasn’t until after I’d been teaching online classes for a few years that I figured out it was time to collect my material in one place. Writers Digest was my dream publisher for this project, so when my agent called with an offer for Writing With Emotion Tension and Conflict, I was delighted to set to work with a great editor, who helped focus the book and get the project into shape. My hope is that writers of all experience will be able to use my examples and suggestions to create synchronized plots featuring characters with universal appeal. The chapters contain exercises that help writers understand why specific themes appeal to them and how to work those storylines to their advantage by utilizing their specific skills. Zombies are optional.
You can learn more about Cheryl and her wonderfully emotional books at her website http://www.cherylstjohn.net/