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You know that feeling you get after a good run, where you struggle to catch your breath? How about when something scares you so much you feel like your heart is going to beat right out of your chest? Changes in breathing pattern or heart rate are great ways to convey what your character is experiencing without spelling it out in detail for the reader. The trouble with vampires, they don’t breath or have a heartbeat.
I’ve written before about “writing what you know“. What I know, is that feeling when you see someone special and it makes your heart flutter. What I know, is how a kiss or a touch can take your breath away. What I know, is what it feels like to be so angry you need to take deep, calming breaths to slow down your pounding heart. When I’m writing, my first instinct is to make my character sigh, gasp, bestill her beating heart, but then I remember, she’s a 200 year old vampire. Everything I know is completely irrelevant to her. But does that mean I should scrap everything I’ve worked on so far and stick to writing what I know? Absolutely not! After all, what is fiction, if not the imaginings of an author and our imaginations can take us to places we have never been before.
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Anytime I run into this issue, which is quite often, I need to delve deeper into my memory. I need to remember beyond the shortness of breath or the increase in heart rate that are so dominant. I need to think back to the other queues my body offered when I was angry, excited, in love, etc… Among these queues are the butterflies in my stomach, the stiffening of my muscles, the flushing of my cheeks. But wait, flushed cheeks are caused by a blood rush and again, not relevant to vampires. So deeper still, I must dive.
My hope, is that in doing this exercise, I will find a way to connect with my readers on an even deeper level. It forces me to go beyond the quick and easy. I find myself analyzing real life situations as they are happening or directly after so that I can remember every nuance and incorporate it into my writing. It’s forcing me to remember feelings that I haven’t felt in a while and reminding me that, unlike my main character, I am actually alive.