Marketing for Romance Writers Magazine June, 2018 Volume # 1, Issue # 6 - Page 20

JUNE, 2018 IT’S ALL ABOUT HER HUMANITY By: Alice Orr Mike Nichols was a master storyteller, one of the best who ever lived, in my opinion. I saw him in an inter- view once where he was asked to name the most important element in a story. His answer was this. “All we care about is the humanity.” He was saying we must put the core of what makes us all human into the characters in our stories. Their dreams and hopes. Their disappointments and losses. Especially how they FEEL about their dreams, hopes, disappointments and losses. All portrayed in well-written scenes. In Nichols‟ film Heartburn, from the novel and screenplay by another great storyteller, the fabulous Nora Ephron, humanity is at the burning heart. Rachel Samstat spends the entire story trying to get into, get through, and eventually get out of the marriage of her hopes and dreams. She is toppled into disappoint- ment, one she creates for herself by an error in judgment. Her blunder sets her up for what feels at the moment like the most devas- tating loss of her life, the discovery that her husband Mark Forman has been un- faithful. Let me emphasize that Rachel FEELS like his infidelity is the greatest loss of her life and this is what matters. How the situation FEELS to the charac- ter. How what happens to her impacts her humanity. We may know she is better off with- out this lying, philandering so-and-so, but she doesn‟t FEEL that truth. She tri- umphs, so to speak, in the end because she comes to grips with that truth, and we FEEL that triumph with her. We also FEEL her heartache. We FEEL her hu- manity. 20 The entire story really belongs to Rachel Samstat. It could have been titled The Adventures (or Misadventures) of Rachel Samstat. Similarly, each of our own stories could be titled The Adventures of ________ (fill in the name of your story heroine). Or more accurately The Emo- tional Adventures of ________. In the romance genre in particular, our audience, our readership, cares most about the humanity of our heroine, and how that humanity acts itself out in our story. How her humanity comes to life on the page in the way she behaves and talks and most of all FEELS. In other words, what our readers care about most is our heroine‟s Emotional Truth. Emotional Truth is what‟s really go- ing on in your story. The real, underlying truth of what is happening to your hero- ine, and all of your characters. What your characters allow us to see and hear on their surfaces can conceal what they are truly feeling. Great stories are all about TRUE FEELINGS REVEALED. This is exactly like real life, and real life is the mother lode from which you mine your own emotional truth and re- fine it into storytelling treasure. The pre- cious coins of that treasure are the deeply felt emotions at the beating heart of your story, the deeply felt emotions that make your reader feel deeply too. Like we feel for Rachel Samstat, because we recognize her heartburn and her heartbreak, be- cause at one time or another it has most likely been our own. I write romantic suspense novels. Scary things happen in my stories. In my latest novel, A Time of Fear & Loving, my heroine, Amanda Miller Bryce, is terror- ized by a brute. That same thing hap- pened to me once. Fortunately, Amanda and I both survived. In the meantime, as I wrote the story, she and I both bene- fited from my emotional truth of that awful experience. We shared the po