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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Opening an Artery

Please welcome guest blogger Em Petrova

For those of us who are paranormal lovers, when we think of opening an artery, we think vampire. In reference to my own writing, I think of the immortals I’ve creating sharing their blood to Make another immortal, or in bonding. In the writing world, this phrase is often associated with bleeding for our work—pouring every ounce of our hearts and souls into our manuscripts and working hard enough on perfect prose that we’re practically bleeding through our pores with exertion.

Today I’m referring to this phrase in a slightly different way—opening the artery of creativity. In the human body, arteries carry blood away from the heart. They branch into veins and capillaries and feed our bodies oxygen and nutrients.

In the craft of writing, we all strive to inject passion into our ideas. Our original light-bulb moment—the inspiration that makes us want to write that story in the first place—is the artery. Our life’s blood goes into feeding these characters and giving them life on the page. We’re excited about plotting the twists and turns. And that amazing climax that’s going to rock the reader’s world is already scrawled on ten pages of notebook paper, with arrows and bubbles referring to other possible scenes. You’re bleeding out the words.

But somewhere down the line, you hit a vein, and the story narrows. You forget a little of your original intent and the plot feels more restrictive. Maybe you’re not enjoying yourself as much as you did at first. You plug on, knowing this is how writing is at times.

Then you hit the capillary, and your characters are suddenly a little off. Maybe their dialogue isn’t flowing as it once had. Their character traits start to feel flimsy or affected. The heroine’s sultry wink she once gave the hero is now just a place holder in the text, a simple dropping of the eyelid without the wisp of emotion it once carried. You can’t remember why you’ve started telling this tale in the first place, let alone why you’ve ever written any story.

You’re at a dead end, deep in the tissues of your book.

This is often the time I realize I’m in the saggy middle. I might find myself avoiding my manuscript. While it sits on my hard drive, I’m saying, “Don’t worry. I still love you. We’ll get together soon.” Instead, I’m on Facebook and watching television reruns while my poor brainchild suffers.

What do I do when this happens? Go back through my manuscript to the very beginning. Not the first sentence, or the rough outline, but the original notes. The scribbles I started with when the idea was born. At that time, I bled words all over the page. The heart and life of the story is there, mingled in one jumbled up mess, written at a time when the possibilities felt endless. So what happened? How do we end up in this cramped space, wondering how the heck to get out?

We’ve been weighted down by rhetorical devices and chapters sent to our crit partners that make us question our abilities. In writing the manuscript, we’ve lost the heartbeat of our tales.

Now the answer is to resuscitate. Read those first notes. Listen to the song that inspired us in the first place. Walk on the beach where the idea spawned, and if we can’t do that, look at the photos.

We’ve all read books we loved at first, but fizzled by the end. We’ve followed series where this happened too. The first book is awesome, but after awhile, the author loses heart, and she’s simply putting words on a page to meet a deadline. Of course we don’t want to be that author.

If we write with the artery opened at all times, readers will pick up the fervor we have. Go back and find the pulse of your idea and feel it again. You’ll find the words flow more easily and the passion for your story is kindled. Most importantly, your reader will know it too.

Since a young age Em has been lured by the world of romance and paranormal. She penned her first novel at the age of twelve, and after gaining an arts degree, has returned to her literary roots. She loves to dig deep into the souls of her unique characters and uncover their secret desires when she doesn’t have her nose in a great new read.


When the husband Lillian LeClair has been bound to since World War II takes her on vacation which turns out to be a tour of cemeteries, she is bombarded by glimpses into a mysterious man’s soul as well as memories of her life as a mortal. Once she realizes this mystery man is tracking her, she is frantic to escape. But the phenomenon known as the Calling has her in its grip and Lillian is aboard the runaway train which will inevitably link them.

Famous and centuries-old sculptor Nathan Halbrook is on the receiving end of Lillian’s Call, and is tormented to discover the woman he’s waited years for is the wife of another man. As Nathan and Lillian come face to face, they find themselves embroiled in the puzzling events surrounding her delivery into immortal life. With the holes of her memory plugged, a sacrifice is made to keep her Walking and in the arms of her immortal mate.


Elijana said...

Thanks for the post, Em! It really resonated with me this morning--especially after an interesting journal session last night where I wrote about what I wanna be when I grow up--an imagineer! lol, an imagineer who writes and who can tap in to pure excitement and joy of that little girl's imagination I once played in with complete abandon so long ago. It was definitely an interesting journey and makes me think that I was on the right path... especially after reading your post.

Danica Avet said...

Great post, Em!

Alexis Morgan said...

I almost always hit that point in my books where I wonder what on earth I thought was good enough about that particular plot/character/idea that warranted months of my time and 95K words. Reading my original synopsis does help, and so does looking at the pictures I put together of my characters or their pets or the setting. Anyhing to refresh that spark.
Glad to know I'm not the only one who hits that point where laundry is more interesting than the next sentence I need to write!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reading, ladies. I'm glad to know my blog resonated with other writers. Sometimes finding the spark is easy when you talk to others.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip, I love to read and write and that was really helpful since I'm about to start a paranormal book! Thanks so much!