Monday, September 3, 2018

Immersion for Production by Annette M. Irby

Woman with hands clasped at her heart and head bowed.*

Hey, friends! Today I wanted to re-share a post that first went live on Seriously Write in 2017. If you're looking for emotional payoff in your novel, read on.

As a writer, I’m influenced by story, in all its forms—family lore, books, biblical accounts, television series, movies, etc. I’m a student of story structure. As a writer and an editor, this is part of my work. I love story!

The second book in my current series delves into a family’s secrets and discusses forgiveness, regret, and deep emotional scars. 

While writing it, I watched two separate series of intensely emotional shows on TV—one fictional, and one reality regarding family reunions. I also spent time researching my family’s genealogy, including painful discoveries of my ancestors’ lives. As the emotional burden pressed down, I questioned the weight. Should I not watch these family reunion stories? Should I put off my research? Was all this emotional exploration, exposure, and weight good for me? Should I find some comedies to lighten things up? Take up knitting and turn off the TV? Then I got the most beautiful confirmation because God is faithful like that.

I caught an interview with the writers of the fictional family drama. The hostess asked, “Tell us more about the process for you writers.” Oh, yay! (*rubs hands together in anticipation of how I might relate and what I might learn*) Here’s what they said: as the series was in development, the show’s creator/head writer gathered the writing team. (It’s always a team with these things, isn’t it? Share the genius.) He invited guest speakers to visit the writers’ room for a week or so and share their personal stories. Their intense, painful, deep, emotional, real stories. One person shared about her body image and weight concerns. Another shared about being adopted into a family of mixed race and how challenging that was for her identity in our culture. Lots of pain. Lots of tears. The writers intimated that these sessions were burdensome, intensive, emotional, and that the writers were all very moved by what they heard. They absorbed the emotion. If you’ve watched the show that they’ve written, you know that viewers absorb, relate, feel the intense emotion of these episodes. There is ugly crying involved. 

That was my confirmation! To write an impactful series/story, these writers needed a few things:

  • To get in touch with their own emotions.
  • Hear from and study someone who had been through some stuff.
  • Feel for them, and with them. Share in their pain.
  • Let themselves feel. (So often we want to turn off our feelings, especially when they’re deep, intense, weighty, or confusing.)

We honor our readers when our characters react to plot elements with genuine emotion. We’ll have to give them a part of ourselves to make that happen. In that way, readers have a chance to relate. If we spend our days avoiding deep emotions, we writers may not be able to present our characters’ inner lives as believably. 

Your turn: How do you infuse your stories with genuine emotion?

Write on, friends! 


Finding Love on Bainbridge Island

Neither of them is ready for a relationship, but love may not give them an out.

Jenna-Shea Brown considers herself a broken therapist. Years ago, she witnessed something that caused PTSD. She can’t let her boss or her patients know about her battle. Who would want to trust her to help them, when she can’t help herself? She’s finally able to find a fresh start in her family’s beach cabin, but the renovations aren’t complete. Her parents have hired her ex-boyfriend to finalize them, but his negligence led to her being in the wrong place at the wrong time all those years ago. 

Liam Barrett is trying to prove he’s nothing like his deadbeat dad. He’s working hard, yet still failing. Adrenaline and adventure offer him a diversion, but maybe he can’t escape his genes. He’d like to make things right with Shea, but he’s unsure if she’ll forgive him. Meanwhile, he’s challenged to forgive his father. He’s also worried about Shea and all these episodes she won’t explain. Now that they’re back in close proximity, he’s falling for her again. But can anything heal the past?


Annette M. Irby**

Annette M. Irby has been writing since her teen years when she sat pounding out stories on a vintage typewriter just for fun. Since then, she’s joined Christian writing groups and launched blogs so she could share the joy of writing. In her off hours, she enjoys gardening, photography, and music. She lives with her husband and family in the Pacific Northwest.

Learn more here on her Seriously Write Page.

Links to connect with Annette:
Twitter: @AnnetteMIrby
Facebook Reader Friends Group:

* woman photo credit: Pixabay
** Author Photo credit: Sarah Irby at Irby Photos