Imbue physicality with meaning in stories

Bookmarked against character vapor by Brandon (sweater weather)

A literalness of physical representation that does not deepen or sharpen the reality of either character or story. These sorts of descriptions feel quite rote, dull, dead. They feel like a transcription of a visual event totally deprived of poetry or sense. There is this sense that we are being cinematic when we watch a character cross a room. Rather than cinematic, I think we ought to be more dramatic.

In fiction, when you just plop those physical acts into your story or your novel, you’re copying the surface but not the deep reality.

We are brought along with the narrator’s perceptive field into the story. They are experiential, not narrated. They unfold in quasi real time, a sure indicator of experiential writing rather than the summarized narration. The psychic distance is quite close. We feel as things happen. And the things that do happen feel significant.

The author writes of literary works but I’m thinking of the physicality of romance: that a good sex scene is not “insert tab a into slot b” but full of what action means to the characters. That action conveys conflict and cooperation, is a proxy for the state of their relationship. That the other’s actions push them to a response: do they let the other lead or fight for control, do they trust the other with their vulnerability, do they deny the act has meaning between them? How does coming together change them both?


Romance Writing

Framing obstacles versus conflict

Liked Let’s agree about conflict by KJ Charles (

It is perfectly possible to write a terrific romance where the MCs never clash with one another, even in a small way. But even the lowest-angst, most comfort-blanket read has obstacles, things that get in the MCs’ way individually or as a couple. Where they struggle and how they deal with it is the engine that drives the plot, shows character in action, and lets the relationship develop.

So the question for the romance writer is:

What are the obstacles, internal and external, that complicate, slow, or threaten the relationship?

Combine KJ Charles’ romance relationship obstacles framework with Jami Gold’s story obstacles “two steps back” approach

Mental Health Resources and Reference Writing

Emotion Sensation Feeling Wheel

Bookmarked Emotion Sensation Feeling Wheel Handout by Lindsay Braman by Lindsay Braman (

The two inner rings of this wheel are emotions, the outside ring contains descriptions of the actual physical sensations that may accompany that emotion, described in concrete sensory language.

Looks useful both for writing reference and potential personal use.


Identity as Character Armor

Bookmarked BUILDING CHARACTER – Bringing People to Life Through Words (Part 2) by K.M. Fawcett (

In Part 1 of my Building Character blog posts, we discussed how a character’s unique traits will determine how they react to anything and everything in the story. I gave a list of 14 things that make a character unique. You can read that post here. In Part 2, I want to dive deeper into 3 of them: experiences, perspective, and beliefs.

Identity: Emotional armor (facade) worn to protect your character from his wound. It’s the lie he believes about himself. It’s the negative coping skill.

Wound: An emotional trauma. An emotionally painful event in the character’s life.

Fear: Painful emotions the character wants to avoid. Fear stems from the wound and creates an emotional need.

Emotional Need: This is the character’s true goal; the internal goal. The character’s emotional need drives his behavior.

Lie: In order to cope with his wound, the character believes lies about himself. I call this the negative coping skill.

This lie should center on [not feeling worthy of] one of the 5 basic human needs.

1) The need to secure one’s biological and physiological needs.

2) The need to keep oneself and one’s family safe.

3) The need to feel connected to and be loved by others.

4) The need to gain esteem and recognition, both by others and from oneself.

5) To realize one’s full potential.

The lie is one of the most challenging things for me to pinpoint but I like this way of drilling down to it.

Emotional Need (True Goal) [is tied to] Emotional Motivation [which leads to] Emotional conflict [which are actualized through the plot through] Physical Goal [inspired by] Physical Motivation [despite] Physical Conflict

This ties all the pieces together in a useful chain.