Today we have a special guest, Willa Blair, sharing helpful hints on adding depth to your writing, especially after your first draft! Be sure to check out her sizzling cover and blurb. Take it away Willa....
Five Ways to Add Depth to Your Writing
I’m one of those writers who never has to cut word count out of their first drafts. While I do write from an outline, I’m always in a hurry to capture ideas and move through the story, so my first draft tends to be very spare. Sometimes, I wind up doubling the word count once I move to the editing phase.
So how do I take that awful first draft and turn it into a story someone will want to read? There are five key things I do. One (or all) of them may work for you.
Add sensory experience. Readers see through your point-of-view character’s eyes, but they can also feel, smell, taste and hear along with the character. How do your characters react to what their senses are telling them? Is the light too bright or too dim for their eyes? Does a certain smell bring back a long-forgotten memory? Does the sound of someone’s voice make their heart beat faster? Does the touch of someone they hate feel abrasive or slimy?
Add emotion. If you’re like me, the first thing that goes on the page is conversation, followed by sketchy narrative or internal thoughts. But your reader wants to know, as your character does or says things, what they feel about the situation they’re in, or the person they’re with. The emotion can be in sync with or diametrically opposed to the words coming out of the character’s mouth - either way adds to another layer to the story. Do they believe what they’re saying? Or are they lying to protect the person they’re speaking to? Are they distracted by something other than the conversation they’re in?
Add movement. Your characters aren’t just sitting there, talking at each other. They’re moving, waving their arms, making faces, whatever is appropriate. Their voice gets louder or softer, sweeter or more strident. They lean forward or back, or clench their fists. Their movements are a physical expression of their emotional state.
Add to the scenery. What’s in the room with them? Furniture? What kind? Candles or klieg lights? Warm colors or cool? Flower arrangements? The scent from those flowers? If they’re outside, do they hear birds? Is the sun beating down or hidden behind clouds? What kind of plants do they see? Do they smell the ocean on the breeze? Don’t overdo this — a few hints will allow the reader to fill in the scene in their mind.
Add internal monologue. This is more than just the immediate reaction to something that was said. This includes how a character perceives the situation they’re in, how they relate it to something in their past, or some expectation for their future, and what they expect to do about it. In romance, it’s often happens in a separate scene that follows the action scene. They key thing here is that it must lead to a new realization or decision that leads to new action.
Once you’ve added these layers, you can think about what to cut - repetition, over-used words, scenes that don’t move the story forward, etc., but until you’ve built these layers into your story, you’ve only scratched the surface of the experience you can give your readers. Happy writing!
The Healer’s Gift (A Highland Talents Novella)
Coira MacDugall paid with her life for her attack on the Highland Healer. But her victim did more than heal Coira’s fatal wound that awful night. Now drowning in the unwelcome emotions of others, Coira wonders if her new empathic ability was meant as a gift or a curse.
Logen MacDugall must discover who killed three previous lairds if he hopes to survive for long in the position. He believes Coira’s new sense can help him root out the conspirators, but after her disastrous time in the Highlands, the last thing she wants is to get involved with another laird. Logen must help Coira gain control of her talent in time to save him and their clan from those intent on destroying MacDugall.
Can Coira believe this laird truly loves her? Or will her memories lead her to madness again?
Willa Blair is the award-wining author of Amazon and Barnes & Noble bestselling Scottish historical paranormal romance and a contributor to USAToday’s Happy Ever After romance blog.
Her popular Highland Talents series, set in a pivotal point in Scottish history, is filled with men in kilts, psi talents, and plenty of spice. Available in ebook, print, and audiobook formats, the first three titles will soon be joined by more novels of adventure and romance.