Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Get passionate

You thought this post was going to be about writing sex scenes didn’t you? ;-) Sorry, but I’m talking about passion in the larger sense as defined by the Mac dictionary: strong and barely controllable emotion.

What are you passionate about? Global warming? U.S. involvement in the Middle East? Sea turtles? Education? Adoption? Animals? School arts programs? Immigration?

Pick your passion—no matter what side of the fence you’re on—and find a way to write about it. I don’t mean a position paper or a letter to your editor, though you could. I mean imbue your character with that passion and build a story around it. Or structure or book or series around a group that fights for or against your cause. In researching opposing viewpoints, you might even see the subject in a new light, and it should be easy to make the sparks fly between your characters if they’re on opposite sides of an issue.

Laura Griffin’s Tracers series features a forensics lab that’s dedicated to processing all crime scene evidence and helping law enforcement catch violent criminals. She came up with the idea after she found out that much forensic evidence is never processed or entered into a crime database. She took her frustration and created a fictional group with the passion to make it happen.

The late Michael Crichton made a fortune writing books about what could go wrong with the research he read about in scientific journals. Jurassic Park, Timeline, and Prey hit a cord with readers because he took a stand on a topic and built a story around it.

Robin Cook did the same thing for medical topics. Just try to eat a fast-food hamburger after reading Toxin. I dare you.

If emotion is the key to memorable characters and keeper-shelf books, then by writing about a topic that gets you emotional, you might just find that all-important element easier to write. And an interesting topic makes the research more fun.

So, figure out what shocks, angers, or delights you, and build a story around it. You might even teach your readers something, and get them passionate too. Good luck!


Callie James said...

Wonderful blog, Gwen. I had an idea two years ago for a sweet contemporary that covered the topic of animal abuse and rescue--a subject of which I'm VERY passionate. Something in your blog brought it back.

Think I'll start writing this down.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Thanks, Callie. I actually thought of you when I mentioned animals. ;-) I'm glad the post jogged a memory.

M.V.Freeman said...

LOL, I write what I am passionate about...self responsibility and the freedom to change your life and make your own choices. Its not really a cause, but its very important to me. I hate feeling powerless.

You are right, you have to find the passion! Thanks Gwen.

Carla Swafford said...

Taking care of family - no matter how you really feel about them, that turms up in several of my books.

But I do have a sci-fi that I read something about and may write about one day.

Rashda Khan said...

Great post! And yes, I was thinking it'd be about sex, but turned out even better :D

Passion is what makes great characters. Thanks for the reminder.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Those are great things to write about, Mary. I think whatever's important to you should come through in your work.

My CP was just pointing out to me that one of my characters always has to manage their money well. I hadn't really noticed, but I have a hard time writing a MC who's frivolous with it.


Gwen Hernandez said...

Carla: Taking care of family is another great one.

Good luck!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Thanks, RK. I'm glad you weren't disappointed. ;-) It's been a great reminder for myself and I in fact rewrote my major turning points and character GMC after figuring out what my heroine is passionate about.

Happy writing!

Gwen Hernandez said...

As a side note to everyone, I can't believe that I didn't mention Suzanne Brockmann in my post. She's passionate about including diversity of all kinds in her books. At her theme workshop at RWA10, she called it "infinite diversity in infinite combinations".

Anyway, I'm sure I'll think of more authors, but SB's one of my faves and I'm feeling bad about leaving her out... =)