FF: Evoking an Emotional Response – Raven Oak

FF: Evoking an Emotional Response

This week’s Flashback Friday: Evoking an Emotional Response

I love that music can evoke such an emotional response in me. It’s one of the reasons that both myself and my husband were music majors for our first 3 years of college. While we both changed majors to more lucrative ones, neither of us have given up our love of creating and enjoying music.

Sometimes, however, the timing is piss poor–such as today. I’m trying to read and critique a story for a participant in the NorWesCon Writing Workshop, and a new song streams in the background. Suddenly I’m a puddle on the floor as its lyrics hit way too close to home. On the one hand, I love that I connect with music on a level like that, but on the other, I don’t have time today to melt.

The reality is that music seeps into every pore of me–sweeping me off on a story that sometimes books cannot–and when I find a book that can equal or top that, it’s an amazing read.

I have great memories of books triggering emotional responses in me. I remember when Vanyel died, as well as Rohan, Leslie Burke, and Old Dan & Little Ann. I remember when Scout learned the horrible truth about prejudice and hatred. My entire purpose in these Flashback Fridays has been to study those books that evoked an emotional response in me and how this has changed me as a writer.

Emotional Response - Adelei This time last year, I was swimming in reviews of Amaskan’s Blood, both online and off. The book had such an emotional effect on my tax preparer that she had to set the book aside for a time. A good friend of mine alternated laughing and crying at work. A podcaster loved it so much, she begged for more than the trilogy I had planned.

The idea that something I have written triggers emotional reactions in people is the greatest compliment anyone can pay me.

The first draft of Amaskan’s Blood topped out at 90,000 words (or about 260 pages) and was written in 30 days during a long past NaNoWriMo. That draft was quite different from the one that was published. For one, I was calling it Assassin’s Blood, and I thought it was a standalone novel. For another, fan favorite Ida Warhammer didn’t exist as a character. Margaret had two scenes total in her point of view, and King Leon had zero in his. The first draft lacked the emotional impact needed to carry the characters’ arcs. It lacked depth and breath.

I put the novel aside for a while because I wasn’t happy with it. Adelei wasn’t as strong a character as I wanted her to be–hell, she wasn’t even Adelei. (Her original name began as Robin. Margaret was Renee. I later researched name meanings and ethnicities to come up with the final character and place names.)  The final version is incredibly different from that first story.

I’m usually a speedy writer, and while I recognize that job loss, a broken wrist with tendon damage, a house flood, buying/selling a home, moving, and depression have all played a hand in my writing schedule, I suspect that one of the reasons Amaskan’s War is taking me longer is the need to have an emotional impact on the reader. Be it sadness or joy, I want people to read book II with the same connection as they did book I.

This is what every author wishes for their stories.

Click here to read other Flashback Friday posts including those by bestselling authors Jean Walker, G.G. Silverman, G. S. Jennsen, and Django Wexler.

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