On Saturday I attended an excellent workshop at the KSP Writers’ Centre called Writing Emotion with award-winning young-adult novelist Kate McCaffrey, author of Destroying Avalon, In Ecstasy, Beautiful Monster, and the recent Crashing Down. During the workshop, Kate shared her writing and publishing experiences, from a chance viewing of Dr Phil inspiring Destroying Avalon, to the tribulations of translating In Ecstasy for an American audience. Kate’s story was full of inspiration, wisdom, and emotion.
Throughout the workshop, Kate insisted that writers should write what they know. This, she says, is the key to writing emotion because if a writer has had a similar emotional experience, then it will probably come through in their writing. Kate also pointed out that writers must leave room for their readers to bring their own emotions. This can be achieved by giving the reader enough information of the situation and leaving gaps for them to fill with their own emotions. Another piece of advice Kate offered was that if writers, want to get published, they need to stop writing for themselves and write for an audience.
Kate led the group through two writing exercises. In the first exercises, we presented a scene from one of our current stories, which Kate used to identify how we could more strongly inject emotion into it. In the second exercise, we described a character on the train through the eyes of another character, which, surprisingly, told us more about the describing character. In what was a synchronistic experience, many of the workshop participants described a similar character.
Kate’s lively, down-to-earth personality, personal experience, and relatable tales made for an engaging workshop that enriched all participants.