Hit and Run Emotions by DiAnn Mills

by DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

While driving back from the grocery store, I was hit by a truck and the driver took off. The emotions I experienced were shock, anger, and a twinge of fear. The latter one was probably because I write suspense, and my mind always goes into story mode. But the truth is, fear often results from the unpredictable and suspicions from those who harm us.

Are you guilty of hit and run emotions?

The same applies to the characters in our stories. What happens when a writer has a character encounter a traumatic incident and there’s no reaction? Or what happens when a character responds to a minor incident with drama-queen emotion?

Both scenarios can destroy a reader’s reality check and toss the reader out of the story. Future purchases from that writer are nil. Sad, but true. Not much opportunity for a second chance when there are so many writers competing for our attention.

To avoid hit and run emotion in our stories, we can take steps to ensure our characters’ reactions to events are met with responses that are in character, realistic, and slide into genre.

In Character
For credible emotion, we writers must thoroughly understand our POV characters. This means taking time to develop their personality, unique traits, and backstory. A character who handles anger by stuffing it may logically end up with an ulcer. A character who deals with anger by breaking noses may need anger management classes. The first key to overcoming inappropriate reactions lies in characterization.

Realistic

Many writers keep a journal of the happenings in their lives and how they reacted. It’s been said that if a writer is unwilling to seek resolution to life’s explosions, then the writer will never be able to write about those same emotions effectively.

Dramatic reactions to small incidents initiates skepticism in the reader, unless the writer is gifted in humor. Even those stories must be crafted with care. When a hero or heroine appears callused to tragedy, displays an absence of wit or logic, or is over-the-top in dialogue, readers no longer care about the character or the story.

Don’t hit the reader with a drama queen!

Genre 
The many genres provide us an opportunity to show our stories through a variety of techniques. The criterion dictates the story world’s dialogue, culture, goals, setting, and symbolism. The seven universal emotions stated in Tonya Reiman’s,The Power of Body Language are surprise, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, happiness, and contempt. Every POV character experiences these emotions according to genre guidelines. Here are a few examples:

Contemporary: Today’s world is filled with instant information from various communication devices. Problems arise from dealing in a world where change is the norm. A character is continuously assaulted with situations that involve coping devices according to traits and backstory. Contemporary characters filter a whirl of happenings through their personal data bank of their past.

Historical: The past is known for its slower pace of living. Communication from local,
national, and worldwide events shape the future many times before the character learns about them. Culture and gender often dictate how a character receives and processes emotion.

Romance: Romance is an emotional adventure. This aspect of novel writing can be woven into any genre. A thread of romance invites a reader into a dreamlike world of fresh and breathless love.

Create emotions for your fantasy world.

Speculative:This genre has a broad range of categories from fantasy to sci-fi. Here the setting and culture blends with character to show how emotion is received and processed. Because the story world is unusual, how a character views emotion is according to the writer’s discretion.

Suspense: Suspense can be written into any genre, much like romance, but the character’s reaction to a state of anxiousness or uncertainty with a blanket of fear leads the character down a path of uneasiness and often apprehension. Heroes and heroines walking through suspense are survivors who have learned to manage and compartmentalize their emotions in a way that is healthy and believable.

Hit and run emotions. We writers don’t have to be labeled with this criticism because we understand the power of character, reality, and genre.

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure.
She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.


DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; the 2015 president of the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope, & Love chapter; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and International Thriller Writers. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.


DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at www.diannmills.com.

Expect an Adventure by DiAnn Mills

DiAnn Mills is an award winning writer who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She currently has more than fifty-five books published. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won placements through the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Awards and Inspirational Reader’s Choice awards. DiAnn won the Christy Award in 2010 and 2011. She is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also the Craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

Writing is a tough profession. The competition in today’s publishing world makes the strongest writers think twice about their commitment to excellence. Those of us who are lured by the magnificence of story are committed to creating a world where our readers slip into the shoes of our characters and are whisked away to an amazing thrill filled with uncertainty.

A writer has a gauge by which she measures her stories, the one she is currently writing and the future projects that are being shopped at publishing houses.

My personal barometer is for each reader to Expect an Adventure. This aspiration is a two-way street. If I don’t have the adventure of a lifetime while I’m writing the story, then how can I expect a reader to feel the same exhilaration? When I laugh, cry, hate, love, argue, discover, run for my life and leap high mountains, I expect my readers to take the same plunge. Oh, the span of emotions that expands the human heart.

Each book has to have deeper characterization than the previous novel, a more intricate plot, a setting that challenges the storyline, and more emotive conflict. No pressure there!

Once I establish my premise, my quest for dynamic characters begins. I insist upon an unlikely heroine

—a woman who is qualified and able to solve a problem. She’s a feminine creature, capable of feeling a variety of emotions, and she’s mentally strong, a woman who uses her wit to meet each new challenge. This woman may or may not be Christian at the beginning of the story, but she will learn to solve her problems through a Christian worldview.

The hero is a strong man who appreciates many aspects of the heroine. They differ in views and argue, but they learn to work together while they step from one danger to another.

The villain is motivated by greed. He’s highly intelligent and charms his followers with power, money, or wit.

Premise, characterization, and plot are tightly women. My plot must parallel the heroine’s chosen profession and put her into danger as she reaches for an impossible goal. She flexes her muscles and goes to work.

Plotting involves asking questions. What is the worst possible thing that could happen to my character? How can I raise the stakes in every scene? How can I keep the reader on the edge of her seat and glued to the pages of the book? My personal standards must meet the demands of today’s readers.

Are my readers breathless? Filled with excitement? Do they sense the danger? Are they swept away in a romance?

What setting interests or terrifies my heroine? I believe in research to validate my setting, and that means stepping into unfamiliar territory. I’ve been to Sudan, rode the line with the Border Patrol, interviewed treasure hunters, and made friends with the FBI.

If the passion for story will not let you go, I challenge you to take the plunge and write the adventure!

Take No Shortcuts!

If you want to be an overnight success, go read another blog.

No, I’m serious. Novel Rocket is about putting in the work, making the connections, learning the craft, writing and then revising, revising, revising.

But, if you have the passion, commitment, and determination—and a chunk of time to invest—there is help out there.

As the editor-in-chief of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild, obviously I’m most familiar with the ways we help aspiring novelists. We have fantastic courses—so why be shy?

Top-shelf instruction
For instance, our Craftsman course is our most advanced and demanding—but with good reason. In 2009, Craftsman graduate Henry McLaughlin won our Operation First Novel contest with Journey to Riverbend (Tyndale), the book he prepared for his class assignments.

In the Craftsman course, students receive exclusive instruction, encouragement, and support from multiple Christy Award winning author DiAnn Mills as their mentor, but also enjoy face-to-face instruction with Jerry B. Jenkins and other experts like Brandilyn Collins, Steven James, Angela Hunt, James Scott Bell, and Dr. Dennis E. Hensley at an exclusive 4-day residency in Colorado Springs CO.

What students say
“The Craftsman course gave me what I was looking for—structure, technique, and organization for writing my first novel. I will take my idea all the way!” – Dennis Ricci

“It improved my confidence level and writing ability more than I expected. I started the course as someone who writes. I left a writer.” – Marsha Tallman

“By far the best course I’ve taken on novel writing.” – Florence Larson

“The residency prepared me for publication.” – Ella Sadler

Is it for you?
A new Craftsman class starts May 1. I’ll admit right here, it’s not for everyone. But if you are a good fit, it can be a difference maker. Get more information.

There are other options. Just Google novel writing course and stand back as the torrent of information floods over you. With Craftsman you’ll receive instruction and support from Christian authors at the top of their game.

Not ready for Craftsman? Look here.

Michael Ehret loves to play with words and as editor of the ACFW Journal, he is enjoying a new playground. He also plays with words as the editor-in-chief of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and as a contributor here on Novel Rocket. He has edited several nonfiction books, played with words as a corporate communicator, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.

DiAnn Mills on The Climb

For years I’d sensed a calling that God wanted me to write fiction. But I feared every aspect of the process. I did nothing except dream about writing, conjure stories in my head, and claim that “someday I’m going to write a book.”

How sad to hold onto a dream, know it is from God, and yet have too many fears and doubts to take a leap of faith.

The husband dare
One day my husband said, “Stop telling me you’re going to write a book. Just do it!” I’ve never been one to turn my back on a challenge, so I took him up on his challenge and began gathering the tools needed to learn the art of writing.

No more excuses
This became my new full-time job. I began reading books about the craft and novels by authors I admired in the genre in which I wanted to write. I joined writing groups and participated in discussions and critiques, and I attended writing conferences.

I wrote every day—whether I felt like it or not. I prayed for guidance, wisdom, and to overcome my fears.

I had to do the work (with an understanding that God would work through me). I had to be willing to pay the price. And I would, through the help of God, reach publication.

Success requires determination
In the first year I sold magazine articles, short stories, and devotions while working on my first novel: a historical romance. Two years after my husband’s dare the historical novel was released by Barbour Publishing for their Heartsong Presents line.

Today, I have more than 50 books in print, which have sold more than 1.5 million copies.

Are you ready?
If you’re just beginning your writing ministry, I recommend diligence. Approach writing as a job. The Bible says to work as for the Lord (Colossians 3:23), and that means giving your best.

I remember struggling and needing answers and guidance, so I now have a passion to help others improve. One place I recommend is the Christian Writers Guild, where I am the mentor for the Craftsman students.

But the important thing is, don’t let your fears steal your dream. Take your leap of faith—whatever that means.

Under a Desert Sky (Available in June)

A race from danger…straight into the arms of love.

In 1935, socialite Eva Fortier witnesses her grandfather’s murder and must flee New York to ensure her safety. Leaving behind a life of wealth, she seeks refuge in the secluded high desert area of Ghost Ranch, New Mexico.

Navajo doctor Tahoma Benally has his hands full caring for his people’s medical needs. He certainly doesn’t have time to fall in love. But when Tahoma’s father asks him to help fulfill a vow he’d made to Eva’s father, Tahoma has no choice but to oblige his father’s request. In the process he finds himself drawn to the woman he’s promised to protect.

With an elusive killer stalking Eva, and barriers of race and culture standing between her and Tahoma, does love stand a chance of blooming in the desert?

DiAnn Mills is an award-winning author and the Craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. Her website is http://www.diannmills.com/. Her book, Pursuit of Justice, is out now and her next project, Under a Desert Sky, will release in June.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won placements in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Book of the Year Awards from 2003 to 2008. DiAnn was also an ACFW Carol Award finalist in 2010. She received the Inspirational Reader’s Choice award in 2005, 2007, and 2010, and was a Christy Award finalist in 2008 and a RITA Award finalist in 2010. In 2010, she won the Christy Award for Breach of Trust, the first book in her Call of Duty series.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive; Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope and Love chapter; and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.