e is for erica (excellent, exercise, edits, empathy, emoticons, elation, elephants, exhaustion, etc.)

My blog post actually has nothing to do with its title - I was just letting you know my vast knowledge of the letter e (before I was married, my initials were EE, so I've had a lot of time to ponder the letter).

Instead, I'm going to talk about writing Exciting scenes. Excitement can be a tricky one. There's lots of versions and the excitement you feel on the inside might not be what you show on the outside, especially if other people are around.
Good Excitement - that first kiss, a birthday present, leaving home on your own, a new job. Everyone reacts differently to these situations - they're happy, but can be stressful, too. How do you show these emotions to your reader? One way is through a signature move - hair twisting when she's not very confident, a flushed face or cold hands when he's embarrassed, etc. Then, when she's talking and smiling and Excited, she can suddenly wonder if she's acting too "girly" and twist her hair to show her angst.

Scary Excitement - getting chased, being kidnapped, finding out you have a life-threatening illness, losing a loved one. How does your character react to this? Do they talk in a constant nervous banter, retreat into their own head, or focus only on what they need to do next? If your character is running for her life, don't have her notice the color of leaves on the way - she needs to run FOR HER LIFE, no matter how pretty the fall colors are!!

Here's a snippet from my ms, A New Day, about how Kenz reacts to a somewhat Exciting Event (she's in a new town and doesn't know anyone, so yes, this is Excitement for her at this point of the ms):

It started sprinkling just as they put the last few chairs out and came inside to finish setting up their dishes and serving utensils. I thumbed through a stack of invitations sitting on the mantel and was glad to see the menu looked good, anyway.

"Do you want to come with me and hand those out?" I looked up and was face-to-face with a guy I had only glimpsed from the side earlier.

"What?" I asked, too mesmerized by his hazel eyes and bright smile to form a coherent answer. Also, his hair was in his face and begged to be pushed back. Preferably by me. At that moment. I clenched my hands into fists and tried to smile without looking like an idiot.

Here's a completely different character from a my WIP (this is still in first draft form), Coyote Hotel:

Something pulled me along behind him, like I was on a leash. I focused on the details of the place like I was watching a movie so I wouldn't get too scared. A pile of dog food in the corner made me think anyone who feeds dogs can't be all bad. There was a poem written up the wall of the staircase. It didn't rhyme and was slightly disgusting, but made me think actual people lived there, you know, versus ghost-type people.

Even without any context, you can see what these characters are doing and feeling. Now, do I do more telling than showing? Well, yeah, maybe, sometimes (especially during the first draft, of course). But I also spend A LOT of time getting into my character's heads and knowing just what they would do in any situation.

How do you make your ms Exciting?? (and if you aren't sure, click here for hundreds of links) 

As for our book challenge, well, erica's love for the letter E apparently never led her to remembering book titles, so this one wasn't the easiest. Instead, I went with one of my favorite children's authors (maybe christy has a favorite E book and will come in here and post it, too): Eric Carle. My students adore his books and every year, we read them multiple times. Here's one of my favorites:

Very Hungry Caterpillar
Have a great Wednesday, everyone!!

I've got nothin' but a half-written synopsis to share with you all.  So...I'll leave now.  Except to say that erica and I went to the same university and never met there.  And it starts with E.  :0)


  1. just found your blog through the challenge. It's cool the way the two of you have hooked up online to do this though you have never met!

  2. Wow I go away on vacation and everyone changes the look of their blog. Love the new look.

    I love writing emotions, though my CP still has to ask me what my mc is feeling from time to time. LOL about noticing the beautiful leaves while being chased.

  3. I enjoyed your post today. Good examples, Erica.

    Nothing more than I would Expect....(Oh, no, Ellipses again.LOL)

  4. Caterpillar is still may daughter's favorite book. She uses it as a teaching tool (I think so she can continue to read it and no one can laugh.)


  5. Interesting snippets, and I totally subscribe to the Toni M. quote on your sidebar. It's how all my stories are birthed. :)

  6. Exciting scenes are awesome. Duh? Yeah, but still, they are! :D

  7. Sigh... I have a rough time with excitement. After I write them, I've looked at them for so long that I can no longer tell if it's actually exciting. I've had a similar problem in my Pathos class this semester... it may be moving, but I've read it so many times I can't tell!

  8. Great post! I love getting inside my characters' heads too, figuring out what makes them tick and how they react in certain situations. I have some trouble with telling instead of showing (so glad to read that part in your post) but it's something I'm constantly working on and hopefully getting better at!

  9. Great post! I must not have visited in forever because I love your new layout - so adorable!


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