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Emotion in Writing: Bleed Onto The Page

by Carol Burnside

MP900386362[1]If you’re not laughing, crying and sighing as you write it, the reader won’t feel the emotion either.

Anyone here agree with that?

Lately, I’ve been struggling to get words on the page. My latest WIP—due to be released at the end of this month—is still not finished! I was about ready to beat my head against the wall when I received a review for Her Unexpected Family. The reviewer spoke of the emotions she felt while reading and the theme of the book. Suddenly, I knew what I was doing wrong. I wasn’t bleeding on the page of this new manuscript. I was worrying over getting the beginning right, tweaking the main character’s motivations and conflict, anything to avoid the theme of the book.

That theme? Surviving grief.Businessman Thinking on Steps

You see, both J.T. and Cass are dealing with different stages of grief, something I know way too much about. In conveying their emotional journey, I’ll have to dig through raw wounds. Not fun, and I don’t want to do it, but there’s no way around it if I want this book to be good. And I do. Of course I do.

So, this post is short and not so sweet because I’m returning to my writing cave with a box or two of tissues. Good thing these stories come with a happy ending. I’m looking forward to this one.

Have you read a good book lately that made you laugh or cry?

Marilyn Baron - March 6, 2014 - 8:02 am


I agree that emotion in a book, whether it’s laughing, sighing or crying is important. I love books that make me feel emotion and feeling that emotion when you right is key to making a book appealing.

Pam Asberry - March 6, 2014 - 9:02 am

It’s been a while since I read a book that made me cry, but I’ve been opting for lighter reads recently – books that make me laugh out loud. Regardless, it’s all about the emotions. I’m just finishing “A Suitable Wife,” and it’s terrific. Keep ‘em coming! :-)

Connie Gillam - March 6, 2014 - 9:08 am


This is a very timely post. I’m finishing a wip and trying to get in touch with the emotions of the main character.(something I should have done earlier)
I had a talk with one of my critique partners. She suggested once I get in touch with my own emotions, I’ll be able to bring the emotional side of the character to the page.

This is going to be painful.

Maxine - March 6, 2014 - 9:33 am

Carol, oh, yes! I sometimes sit here and type a while and wipe the tears a while. Then I silently giggle once in a while all the time hoping someone out there will do the same when they read it. Oh, yes – again. I can read a book and wipe my eyes at the same time. It seems a lot of them do that to me. Sometimes it’s the happy ending that causes the tears.

Carol Burnside - March 6, 2014 - 11:29 am

Marilyn, being too empathetic at times, I knew I wanted my writing to touch the reader, but couldn’t gauge how it would affect the average person. A reader who perhaps didn’t get teary eyed over Folgers commercials and Clydesdales bonding with their trainers. I guess in the end, we can only write the best book we can and the reader will engage as much as they wish.

Carol Burnside - March 6, 2014 - 11:31 am

Oh, thank you, Pam! I’ll try.

Carol Burnside - March 6, 2014 - 11:32 am

Connie, I know exactly how you feel. This writing business isn’t easy, but perhaps it can be cathartic.

Carol Burnside - March 6, 2014 - 11:35 am

Maxine, for me it’s mandatory that the HEA better elicit either a sigh of contentment or a few tears. That seals my reaction to the whole book.

Susan Carlisle - March 6, 2014 - 6:44 pm

I haven’t read one that made me cry but I have read one that made me hold my breath wondering if they could make the relationship work. My emotions were are tied up in the characters.

Carol Burnside - March 6, 2014 - 7:20 pm

Susan, you’re a stronger woman than me.

Walt Mussell - March 6, 2014 - 8:49 pm

I can’t think of a recent book I read that made me cry, but I can think of a number of books that made me laugh.

Sandy Elzie - March 8, 2014 - 8:06 am

Hi Carol,
I love books that make me feel emotions…preferably laughing versus crying, but even crying is okay at times.

When I wrote Duty Calls, it started with my heroine sobbing after learning that her sister had been killed in action. Then her little year and a half old niece (that the heroine has been caring for while her sister was deployed) climbs up in her lap to snuggle and reaches up to pat her damp face. I had a man (not hubby) tell me that he got choked up when he read it. Wow! What a compliment!

Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn - March 9, 2014 - 5:02 am

Walt, I’m happy eliciting either in my readers. A laugh is good medicine.

Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn - March 9, 2014 - 5:03 am

Ah, Sandy, that’s cool. Don’t you just love it when you hear from a reader?

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