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Writing with Emotion, Tension, and Conflict: Techniques for Crafting an Expressive and Compelling Novel

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  328 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Craft an Emotionally Charged Story That Will Resonate with Readers

Emotional impact shouldn't be dropped into your novel as an afterthought or forced upon your story with a pair of pliers and an iron grip. It should be carefully sewn into the fabric of the story to create tension-filled moments that will keep readers turning pages. In Writing with Emotion, Tension, & Confli
Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 28th 2013 by Writer's Digest Books (first published October 31st 2013)
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Oct 17, 2014 rated it liked it
What I didn't know was that St. John is a "genre" writer, and specifically a romance novelist. I'm not sure I would have bought this book if I had known. Some of her advice is exactly the kind of advice that I think too many mediocre YA authors have taken to heart: readers have no attention spans, so you have to keep them engaged with fast-paced scenes; readers don't like to work at understanding so make everything clear an obvious; readers want to feel what the main character feels so use all k ...more
Liz Fenwick
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
A book filled with solid advice and good exercises...useful for bothering the new writer and the more experienced one - especially as a refresher.
Brooke Johnson
Mar 12, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: not-finished
This book is a waste of paper and has absolutely no benefit to anyone looking to improve their writing with an instructive craft book. The authors advice boils down to "Read your favorite books or watch your favorite movies and figure it out yourself!" The book is littered with excerpts from the author's own fiction, which is unappealing and not at all instructive. This ~might~ be useful for someone who is just getting into writing and has literally never read another craft book. Everything in t ...more
Stephanie Swanbeck
Oct 05, 2015 rated it liked it
This was a very thorough and helpful book. What I loved most was that St. John provided at least one example for every point she was trying to make. Some chapters were stronger than others - some were pretty bland. I like that she included examples of her own work and mentioned she's published over 40 books, because it gave me confidence in her. However when she quoted a gushing customer review of one of her books, it felt too showy to me. I actually cringed.

In short, it's a pretty good writing
Deborah Hale
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book should come with LIKE buttons!

I have read many writing craft books over the years and Writing with Emotion, Tension and Conflict is among the best! Even after having published more than thirty novels, I still learned new things from reading it and was reminded of other important points I'd forgotten. I am certain that I will come back to read parts of it often in the future when my stories hit a snag.

There are so many points in the book that I wish had Like button beside them, because
Leah Good
Sep 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing, non-fiction
Last week I went to Barnes and Nobles armed with a gift card. There's so much freedom that goes attached to entering a bookstore with a gift card. :) I was planning on buying The Emotion Thesaurus, but they didn't have it. So I got this book instead.

It was a good, easy read. And helpful too. I was a little surprised that the author spent a good chunk of the book talking about setting. (That doesn't fit Emotion, Tension, and Conflict in my mind, but it did in the mind of Cheryl St. John apparentl
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: writing-craft
I did get a few tips from this book, but I feel that the author just wrote the book not as a creative writing instructional but to promote her other books. Maybe I would feel different if I were a fan of the western romance genre.
I feel a little cheated, I don't feel that I got $18.00 worth of anything except book reviews and excerpts from the author's other novels.
I also cringed when I started reading the last book review excerpt from a fan. I did not finish reading that section.
Catherine Richmond
My critique partner Mike is amazed at the number of how-to-write books produced by people who've written very little. This is not one of them. Cheryl St. John is an award-winning author of over forty books. Writing with Emotion, Tension, and Conflict is a comprehensive guide for fiction writers of every experience level. The extensive examples were especially appreciated. ...more
Dee Ann
May 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Great book. Easy to read and follow along with exercises. Ms St. John gave perfect examples making it easy for me to understand. Thoroughly enjoyed the book and will use it as a reference guide over and over again.
Michelle Styles
Dec 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Exellent writing craft book and destined to become a classic as St John clearly demonstrates the techniques and methods required to crank emotional tension up a notch.
Robbie Cox
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A strong book with great pointers. It definitely sparked some ideas as I read through it and I now want to watch some old movies again. I highly recommend it for anyone wishing to write.
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
This is a book about how to write stories that will evoke emotion in the reader and be memorable for that reason. Author Cheryl St. John, who has apparently published many books, presents sections on emotion, tension, conflict, dialog, and creating memorable characters. At least, that is what the author is trying to do in principle. In practice, she gives very little actionable advice, and many of her pointers are highly subjective. In the end, I felt like she was telling me how to write a book ...more
Carolee Noury
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is a keeper. (I.E. I can't lend it to friends because I use it so often.)

St. John's writing style makes this book fascinating and easy to understand, no matter how complex the idea. It felt like a (long) conversation with the warmest, most direct critique partner ever to hold a red pen.

I'm using my copy to make writing worksheets and checklists from. (There will be many.)

What is really helpful about this book is that it has:
Suggested movies to watch, with explanations of what to look f
Nov 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: writers, beginners,
Those who have been lucky enough to take a writing class from Cheryl St. John know she is a born teacher. Her new book on writing, Emotion, Tension and Conflict, is an engaging, encouraging, and jam-packed series of lessons on what makes writing a novel work and how to avoid the pitfalls even experienced writers may fall into once in a while.

Using a variety of examples from books to television to film, St. John includes a variety of exercises guaranteed to help with the thorniest of writing issu
Jessie Verino
Feb 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
For writers who, like Ms. St. John, are writing craft book junkies, there won't be much in new info. Where this book excels is in presentation. Concepts are presented in an easily digested manner. This doesn't mean that the concepts are simple. In fact, writing emotion is anything but easy, but the author has a teaching style which makes it seem so. I anticipate that this will quickly become one of my "go-to" craft books. Disclaimer: I received this from the Goodreads First Reads program. It did ...more
Dec 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is sure to be an often checked reference book when writing trying to write that oft thought about novel. There's a lot of really good info here.
If I have a criticism it would be that the examples used are either a) overly long, and b) fromt eh author's own works on many occasions. That didn't really sit too well for me. Would prefer that the examples were all "neutral" so to speak.
Mary Lee Woods
Apr 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A must-have for every writer who wants to up their game!
Brett Buckley
Jun 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
I learned much from this one, and reread it often.
Lisa Green
Jul 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Loved this craft book! It's a great compilation of all the best writing advice, with easy to understand suggestions. ...more
Jenny Hale
Dec 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is a fantastic writing resource that I will return to as I'm writing. ...more
Charlee-Ann Ellis
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Whilst I would recommend this book to anyone, and it was very useful and inspiring, I found that the author tended to use far too many lengthy examples from her own work for my taste. Don't get me wrong, she's a good writer and her work was often very good, but it got to the point of "oh, another one. Didn't we just have an example?" and they'd go on for at least two pages in some cases.
That being said I did enjoy this book. It gave me lots of food for thought and I was able to read it all in o
Tammie Painter
Jan 20, 2018 rated it liked it
The advice in here isn't too shabby, but if you're expecting it to give you clear cut information on how to create tension such as word choice, cliffhangers, etc., it's not going to do that. While it does give some details on how to use setting to create tension, it seemed more about character development than what I was expecting. Still, I did end up with a couple pages of notes of tips I'll apply to my next project. ...more
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
A lot of this material was gripping and clever, and I made some notes on character design and plot construction based on what I read here. I would recommend this book for fellow writers looking to develop specifically what the title calls out.

I only wish the author were a more confident in her achievements, as she often cites her own work as examples of various points, and reading "as I wrote in my own novel" a hundred times feels like continuous advertisement.
Jihan Latimer
Aug 13, 2017 rated it liked it
The beginning of the book drew my attention, however half way through I lost interest. There were great ideas for writing techniques: photos, watching films and analyzing them, keeping a binder. I would recommend this book for beginner writers, but all proficiencies can still learn other ways to approach writing.
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's a decent book, but it's all things that show up in every writing guidebook, plus huge swaths of writing used as examples. There was one 'example' that went on for four pages. Plus St. John had a strange habit of referring to characters as 'story people', then dropping the term completely and calling them characters from Chapter 19 onward. ...more
Jefferson F
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Out of the dozen or so books that I've read on creative writing, this one was the most densely packed with relevant information. I've never dog-eared and highlighted so much in my entire life. My gut tells me that I'll be returning to this book over and over, as I dive headlong down the creative writing rabbit hole. ...more
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
A good book for writers which gave me a number of useful ideas and tools for characterization. I'll be going through this book a second time to jot down a few notes. ...more
M.A. Jewell
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
excellent resource for the fiction author, written in an entertaining conversational style.
Lucette Nel
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book

I haven't bought another writing guide in a while because of the titles I already have. But this book is great. Cheryl St. John is as great teacher as she is an author.
MaryLee Ashford
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read for any writer regardless of the genre!
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Cheryl is the author of more than fifty historical and contemporary romances. Her stories have earned numerous RITA nominations, Romantic Times awards and are published in over a dozen languages.

In describing her stories of second chances and redemption, readers and reviewers use words like, “emotional punch, hometown feel, core values, believable characters and real-life situations.”

With a 4.9 s

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