Skip to main content

How to Get Emotion Onto The Page

Lesson 1 of 6

Class Introduction

 

How to Get Emotion Onto The Page

Lesson 1 of 6

Class Introduction

 

Lesson Info

Class Introduction

Welcome to Creative Live. My name is Lisa Cron, and this is How to Get Emotion onto the Page. And I feel that that is a very apt topic at the moment, because I am in the throes of a very potent emotion, terror. No, just kidding, excitement. I am so excited; I'm so happy to be here. And I know I often start this way, but I can't help it. I am so happy to be here, because there is nothing that I love more than being in a room full of writers, because writers, you guys, you are the most powerful people on the planet. Why? Because story is the most powerful and potent communication tool in the world. We think in story. We're wired for story. We make sense of everything through story. Story is built into the architecture of our brain, which is why all stories are, in fact, a call to action. And it's what gives you your incredible power. You have the power to change how your reader sees the world, how they see themselves, what they go out and do in the world, simply by allowing them to exper...

ience life through your protagonist's subjective reality as she struggles with that really hard, escalating, unavoidable plot problem that you're gonna through at her. And that is an incredible amount of power, probably more power than you realize you have at this moment, which is why I am so excited about this course, because we are going to dive into exactly what it is that gives you and story its unparalleled power. And that is emotion, because all story is emotion based. If we're not feeling, we're not reading. And to be very clear, when I say if we're not feeling, we're not reading, I mean from the first sentence all the way to the last sentence. We need to be feeling something, and what we're feeling is what the protagonist is feeling in the moment, on the page, as she struggles with that tough story decision that every scene will force her to make. Because make no mistake, everything that happens in your story, and yeah, that means the plot, everything that happens in the plot will get its meaning and thus its emotional weight, because to be very clear, meaning evokes emotion. What it means to the protagonist will evoke the emotion in the protagonist and evoke the emotion in your reader. So everything that happens in your plot will get its meaning and emotional weight based on one thing and one thing only, and that is what it means, how it affects your protagonist as she struggles scene by scene by scene by scene with that tough, unavoidable, escalating plot problem that you're gonna throw at her, or more likely that she's brought on herself. Because make no mistake, what pulls us in is that internal struggle. That internal struggle, your protagonist's internal struggle is the primary source of emotion in your novel. It is the constant source of emotion in your novel. It is exactly what your reader comes for. Your reader comes to story for the protagonist's internal struggle. The reader does not come for the beautiful writing. Beautiful writing does not hook and hold your reader and make them care. Your reader does not come for the dramatic plot. Dramatic plot does not hook and hold your reader and make them care. What hooks and holds your reader is what that dramatic plot forces your protagonist to struggle with internally. It is that internal struggle that makes the writing beautiful. The deeper you dig into that internal struggle, the more beautiful the writing becomes, especially, not but, but especially the plain, simple, otherwise humble words that really grab us, because the story is what makes them beautiful and meaningful and potent and transcendent. That is what grabs us, the internal struggle, which means that in this course we are going to be busting a lot of admittedly revered writing myths. 'Cause there are many writing myths that you may have embraced, embraced tightly, thinking that if you follow these myths, you are going to write an emotionally engaging story that will pull your reader in, and instead you've locked the reader out. So we're gonna be mist, myth, mist-buffing, myth-busting. We're going to bust the myth of beautiful writing, that beautiful writing is what pulls us in and hooks and holds us. We're going to bust the myth of don't tell the reader what your protagonist is thinking and feeling, because that's talking down to the reader. We're gonna bust that myth wide open. We're gonna bust the myth of if you want to get emotional on the page, use body language; that's how you do it. We're gonna bust the myth of no, no, no, not body language. If you're not gonna do that, then action, dramatic action will get emotion onto the page. Then we're going to redefine the oft-tragically misunderstood writing maxim, "show, don't tell," which so often locks the reader out instead of pulling them in. And then we're gonna bust probably the most damaging writing myth of all, and it is the myth that surrounds backstory and the use of backstory. But before we can bust those myths, we need to bust a myth in real life. We need to bust the myth about the role emotion plays in life itself. Because until we understand the role emotion plays in our lives and in our decision making, how can we possibly get any of that onto the page? And once we've done that, since as I'm saying all story is emotion based, what is story then? What are we actually talking about? If it's not about the plot, if it's about how the plot affects the protagonist, if meaning comes from how the plot is affecting the protagonist, what's a story, exactly? So we're gonna dive into what a story is. Then we are going to decode examples of what emotion looks like on the page. So you will be able to do that yourself. You'll be able to decode examples of what emotion looks like on the page. And my guess is you will see that it looks very different than the way that you might think it looks at this moment. So when you leave this course, you will not only know how to get emotion onto the page, but you'll also know what you need to know about your protagonist in order to actually be able to get emotion onto the page.

Class Description

It is a truth universally acknowledged: you have to hook the reader right out of the starting gate. From the very first sentence your story must incite that delicious sense of urgency that makes readers have to know what happens next. This is because every story, even the most rough and tumble, is emotion driven. If we aren’t feeling, we aren’t reading. That’s a tall order. Especially because when we talk about emotion, it’s maddeningly easy to misunderstand what it really is, and thus how to get it onto the page. Emotion doesn’t come from general external “dramatic” situations, nor is it expressed by body language, nor is it about whether a character is happy, sad, angry or really, really cranky. Riveting emotion springs from the protagonist’s internal struggle – the internal cost – of the escalating external decisions the plot relentlessly forces her to make.

This session gives you the tools to create an emotion driven story that will instantly hook readers. You’ll learn:

  • How to make your reader care about your protagonist, beginning on the very first page.
  • How to weave in potent emotion and so give meaning -- and urgency – to everything that happens in the plot. Emotion is the “why” that drives “what” your protagonist does, and it’s that “why” that the reader comes for.
  • Why, no matter how objectively “dramatic” an event is, unless it forces your protagonist to struggle internally, it will fall flat, and how to deftly avoid falling into that trap.
  • What emotion really looks like on the page – it will surprise you.
  • How to use emotion to shape your plot, and so sidestep the common problem of throwing random hurdles at your protagonist in order to ramp up the action.

Reviews

Meghan
 

Love this class - Lisa shares a lot of great examples that really explain how to convey depth of emotion without clangy descriptions or hitting the reader over the head. Super helpful!

Gabrielle Reynolds
 

Lisa Cron is articulate, clear and graphic in talking about things that have been misunderstood in creative writing classes to the detriment of teacher and student - and professional writers. Bringing the reader along on the protagonist's emotional journey is transformative and powerful. Breaking down writing myths and offering in their place techniques that give meaning in story-specific context enables the reader to be included and expanded, rather than feeling left out of the story. Bravo! I learned a great deal. As with her other courses, this one is tops.

Anne
 

Lisa gave me a much clearer picture of how to bring my stories to life with the use of emotion. She is a natural teacher. Great class, thanks!