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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Link: What does English sound like to foreign ears?

My friend David Kotschessa Almodovar sent me this link today, and I think you'd really enjoy it. I imagine most of you have heard what it sounds like when English speakers try to pretend they're speaking other languages (French, Chinese, etc, etc). Well, this site shows what fake English sounds like when speakers of other languages imitate it. There's a fabulous Italian video with a totally fake English song (which rocks, even as it is incomprehensible) and some examples of onomatopoeia differences, and other fascinating stuff.

Thanks, David! I hope you all have as much fun with it as I did.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

TTYU Retro: Tired of cliché? Want to be unique? Pursue the why.

They say it's details that make a setting unique. Some would say, "Don't just create a character who is the generic chosen one who grew up on a farm unaware of his destiny," and they'd be right, but it's been done successfully. I'm thinking a lot of this is about details.

If you're just starting out on something like this, though, hearing this advice can be maddening. Details? What details? The last thing you want to do is take the same old tired scenario and add on a few bells and whistles, a bunch of superficial stuff that you made up because somebody told you that you needed details. Then you're still sitting where you started, just with a lot of extra words.

Pursue the why.

It's not really the details that make the scenario unique. It's how the scenario grows out of your world organically. Does the city have dirty streets? Okay, then why are its streets dirty? Does the village have an idiot? Okay, then who is he, and what is his family like, and how did he come to be where he is? Does he have a real disability or is he simply disaffected?

There are all kinds of societal scenarios that we see constantly in stories. But the fact that we see them constantly may not be because people are unoriginal. It may simply be because these things are real features of our own world. If we're working in a different world, we can have these features appear, but it's important to dig down into the underpinnings of the world and ask, "Why would this common phenomenon happen in this world?" Because things don't happen for no reason.

To make this concrete, I'll tell you about an insight I had some time ago about my Varin world. Funny enough, it's about a part of my Varin world that plays only a tiny part in my current novel in progress. I was inspired by a recent discussion about how to make larger economic patterns in society concrete by thinking about their impact on individuals.

Here's the part that I had before the insight. It's the part that isn't as original as it could be.

Varin has an undercaste. They take undesirable jobs, so they work with trash, or in cremation, or as prison janitors (this will sound familiar to those who have read my "trashers" post). They get abused in their jobs. They live in small apartments. They have hoodlum gangs. One of my characters, Meetis, works in a prison and has a "good job" and a "good apartment." The other character, Corbinan, is a trash collector who has an "okay job" but not a "good apartment." He is a fighter who used to live on the streets.

It's not that it's not detailed. I had put in a lot of setting and stuff. But look how it changes when I tell you what I figured out.

The undercaste members get different economic benefits from their different possible jobs. People who work in prisons get apartments near their work, clothing, and food paid for by their place of work, but they get paid virtually zero cash, so once they have the job, it's almost impossible for them to leave (because they would be homeless with no money), so they have no recourse and are pushed around by their superiors quite easily. People who work in crematories get housing near their work, and are required to maintain high standards of cleanliness, but they don't get fed at work; they are paid cash to buy their own food. They are also paid "by the body" as an incentive for them to do the hardest work. Thus they carry cash but this money is often seen as dirty. Trash collectors are paid by the hour, in cash, and receive no other benefits. Thus they have a hard time securing apartments, and often a group of several people will join together and pool funds to secure an apartment (even if the apartment isn't designed for so many people). People (especially teenagers) without jobs form gangs and steal to keep themselves alive, but it's far riskier for them to try to rob members of other castes, so they target the trash worker neighborhoods first, the crematory neighborhoods if they're desperate, and only then would they try to target a member of another caste. They don't bother with prison neighborhoods because there's no money in it. The trash workers create their own gangs so they can stand up to the penniless hoodlums. The only way to get cash outside of the system without stealing it is to be able to read. These people deal with government workers all the time and are handed papers they can't read, so they will pay anyone who can actually read what they're being given and help defend them against manipulation by the contract writers.

It sounds complicated, but what it does is establish the reasons why gangs exist, who has them and who doesn't, and where they operate. These are details, but they are not random. So once it's all set up in theory, then I operationalize it on my characters' lives.

Meetis is the daughter of prison workers. Her mother is a reader, which is the only honorable way she could get the money to buy a ticket for her daughter to take a prison job in the capital when jobs are scarce at home. Thus, Meetis has an apartment near her work that she shares with her cousin Flara. It isn't well-maintained, but it works. She wears company clothes and eats at work. She works hard and doesn't eat a lot, but she has a safe home and doesn't starve, and she isn't targeted by gangs unless she goes into someone else's neighborhood. She is also a reader, so she has the means to earn cash if she can find the time to fit in reading work.

Corbinan is the son of crematory workers. As a result he got a lot of hard teasing as a kid, had to learn to fight early and ended up running away from home, and running with the hoodlum gangs. When he realized he was starving, but was too young to get a job, he decided to learn to read, so he cornered a reader and threatened him with a beating if he didn't teach him the skill. Once he could read he was able to separate from the hoodlum gangs and save some money, and when he was old enough he got a job as a trash worker. He lives in an apartment with six other people who work out of the same trash center, and though he's tired of gangs generally, he's now a target of the hoodlum groups, so he and the other six form a gang for their own protection. Now he uses his fighting skills to run off the hoodlums, and also to help the gang leader make sure everyone pays a fair share of rent. He's far too smart ever to pick a fight with a member of another caste, but if he and his gang become targets, he can hold his own long enough to help the others get away.

Suddenly he's not just some guy who knows how to fight for who knows what reason. He's simultaneously jealous of Meetis' easy life and a bit contemptuous of her for her lack of "freedom," and her lack of toughness. We can also see why Meetis' life is easy compared to his, but why it is hard on her anyway.

The phenomena are still there, but the whole thing feels different.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Link: A new dictionary of Demotic Egyptian

I just thought I'd pass on this link, about the newly completed dictionary of Demotic Egyptian. For those who may not know, this was the language spoken and written by the common people of ancient Egypt. So much cool stuff to be learned here!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

TTYU Retro: It's good to be wrong - Or, why my characters use the scientific method

I was writing along on my latest story (The Liars) some time ago when I managed to iron out something that really made me happy. I was sitting there grinning and realized this was the sort of thing that I should blog about.

So here I am, to encourage you to let your characters be wrong.

Now, there are lots of good reasons to do this. For one thing, it keeps you from creating a Mary Sue character who can't do anything wrong and really ends up annoying readers. For another thing, it enhances your ability to create conflict between characters. I especially enjoy it when I've got two or three different points of view, and each of them is wrong about something, and nobody really has it right. It creates such great opportunities for conflict and learning and personal growth, and often makes the story that much more worth reading.

But my focus today is on having your characters be wrong in systematic ways. This is something that is particularly useful if you tend to write puzzle stories, or mysteries, or any kind of story where a group of people has to "figure things out."

In a story like this, generally there is a long list of things (like clues, or pieces of the larger puzzle) that your characters will have to put together before they "get it." As the writer of a story like this, you will often be paying attention to whether you are missing a piece, and where it has to go in, and how it can be fit into a scene in the background so that it doesn't appear to be too obvious, etc.

Well, one big problem that can arise in a story like this is confusion. Readers are getting barraged with information as the story goes along and they go, "Whaaa?" They don't feel drive in the story, they feel it's going in all sorts of different directions, and then by the time they get to the point where the main characters are supposed to put it all together (if they ever get to that point) they can't believe the characters would be able to figure it out, because they didn't.

It takes a certain amount of talent, and a lot of imagination, to put the correct constellation together out of a sprinkling of stars.

Here is my suggestion for how to manage this problem: Let your characters be wrong.

I find that my puzzle stories work best when I let my characters use the scientific method as they go. That is, they take what evidence they have at any given point and create a model for what is going on. Because they have a model, their lives seem directed, and their vision seems clear.

In"The Liars," the main characters arrive on the planet of the Poik and immediately see that there is a problem: the planet is being managed as a tourist destination by the Paradise Company, and as a result its environment has been damaged/altered, and its people are being exploited in a very demeaning way. So they immediately "know" what the problem is, and though they're trying to have a good time, their instinct against exploitation starts them into conflict with the Paradise Company from the start. Everything is clear, and actions are motivated.


I suppose you had already guessed that they're not seeing the entire picture at this point in the story. They make friends with one of the Poik, and this changes things. They experience a native ceremony, and that changes things. The further they go, the more they learn. And each time they learn something new, they change their model for what they think is going on. Not only that, but I make sure to have them articulate their current version of the model. Maybe it happens in character internalization, or in a conversation between characters, but there's always a spot where someone has the chance to say, "Because X is what's happening, we should now do Y."

The more complex the real solution is, the more valuable it is for you to break it down into smaller steps. I write pretty complicated puzzles, and I really need to make sure I'm keeping people with me. I need to make sure I'm showing exactly the thought process that leads the characters to the conclusions they draw. That's why this is so valuable for me. That's also why I get so gleeful when I discover a moment where the characters think they have it all put together. Readers will know we're close to the end, and when the characters go, "Aha!" the readers will likely go "Aha!" as well. But there's still something left to learn.

In "Cold Words" I loved it when Parker was trying to explain to Rulii that he felt the downy-furred aliens were being unfairly discriminated against and that he wanted to help them by taking their case directly to the Majesty... whereupon Rulii told him if he did that, they wouldn't have a relationship any more and Rulii would make sure that humans were branded as barbarians. Yeah, you might think you've figured it out, but now I'm going to show you why you really haven't...
This is one critical piece that can make a "twist" at the end really satisfying rather than annoying. The other piece is that you can (and likely should) be subtly telegraphing the larger picture to readers from early on, in pieces whose significance goes unnoticed by the main characters, and which readers are likely to interpret as interesting ancillary detail.

So here are the thoughts to take away as you look at your own stories:
1. Let your characters gather evidence and use it to create models that motivate their behavior.
2. Let your characters change those models in steps as they go through, so as to lead readers along their path of reasoning.
3. Let small pieces of evidence for the biggest picture be available throughout, though their relevance and significance should not be clear, so as to give your climax a better foundation.

It's something to think about.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

When are you being selfish? Not when defending your writing!

I was talking with a close writer friend today, discussing the progress I'm making on my novel, which at this point is coming down to a last big push of revisions before it's ready to go out.

Just an hour or so before, I had approached the president of the parent-teacher club at our school, and told her I needed help with the duties I was committed to.

The night before that, I told my husband that I was going to speak to her, and that I felt selfish about it. He told me I shouldn't feel selfish.

So I spoke to her, despite a lot of agonizing. Even having my husband's support, and even after I had done it, when I was talking with the friend who knows that I write and what that means to me, I still felt guilty.

I felt selfish for wanting my writing time.

Being a writer, or an artist, or any kind of creative, self-employed person is hard, because unless you have a deadline coming down from an editor, you don't have the easy excuse of saying, "I have to do it, because someone else is making me." To defend your own work, your own career, your own writing, you have to say, "This is my career, my work, my writing, and I can't help you because I am doing this." When you're not beholden to anyone else, defending your work is selfish by definition, because who cares about finishing it but you?

I suspect this is true even for those who have full-time jobs and who write "on the side." Who is to say that their writing is not the passion of their soul, just because they have to make money to live in some other way, or even because they have another job they enjoy?

At a certain point, you have to acknowledge the importance of what you are doing. It's hard. There are so many barriers to that sense of legitimacy, of actually being a writer. There are so many times when people ask us, "So, have you been published yet?" "Have you written any novels?" "So do you have a real job?" When I get asked these questions, I get an exasperating sense that experiencing the writing vocation is only a few steps away from being the loony relative locked in the attic, telling stories to the walls. It's certainly not a job. The visit of the muse, because it is generally imperceptible, and because so few people share our experience of it, is treated like some kind of pointless fantasy that has no business being proposed as a reason to alter the obligations of objective reality.

But it does. This is my job. This is the career I've always wanted. I expect to spend thirty hours a week doing it, and that means defending it. Of course I have to choose the balance between my writing and my other obligations - all of us balance life and work. Traditional jobs make that easier because the validity of their demands can't be questioned. Don't let the lonely quality of writing convince you that it's egotistical.

If writing is your calling, you're not selfish to defend it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Culture Share: Bathing in Japan by Juliette Wade

This post is part of The Writer's International Culture Share, in which writers discuss their personal experience with world cultures: Juliette Wade discusses Bathing in Japan.

Before I actually went to Japan, I'd always been given the impression that Japanese families bathed together. And given my cultural background (and ignorance) I'd figured that was like what I did when I was really little, having baths with my mom or my baby brother. This is not how it works.

Let me start by saying there's a really terrific reason for taking baths in Japan, as opposed to showers. No Japanese home I have visited has had central heating; it's room by room. This means that when I was living with my first host family, I had days when I woke up in the morning with my nose hurting from being so cold; once I checked with a thermometer and discovered it was 3 degrees C in my bedroom. Unfortunately, this was also the period when I didn't feel comfortable with the Japanese way of bathing, and I froze myself silly by trying to take showers. After I moved in with a family that took time to explain things and be friendly, I was sane and used the bath. Still, I would wake to my alarm in the morning, lie still and calculate for several seconds the leap it would take to reach my kerosene heater before making the move and rolling immediately back under my futon cover (I'll do futons another day!).

Every house or apartment I've visited in Japan, no matter how small, has had a bathroom. The traditional Japanese bathroom is completely tiled (or at least water-friendly) and has water sources on the walls outside the bath itself. This means that the area with the sink is not actually in the bathroom. Nor is the toilet, but that too is a topic for another day. When going to bathe, the bather enters the bathroom, sits on a small plastic stool and washes head to toe in the general waterproof area, rinses off, and then at the very end steps into the bathwater, which is mostly for relaxing and warming up. If you've watched the movie My Neighbor Totoro you will have seen an old-fashioned version of this. It makes a lot more sense (at least to me as an American) for people to share the same bathwater when they're each getting clean first.

Some tubs have ways of keeping the water warm, and some don't. All the tubs are deep, though, because they're made for soaking, often up to the neck. High-tech modern tubs may have built-in heating elements, but the funniest thing that ever happened to us when my husband and I lived in Japan was that we got to use an old-style bath belonging to some friends who lived on a tiny island off the north coast of Honshu. In this bath, I was shocked to discover that the longer I sat, the hotter it seemed to get. I had no idea what to make of this, so I took a very quick bath; then my husband discovered the same thing. We had been told before going in to put lots and lots of water in, but because Japanese has a different word for "hot water" (oyu) from "cold water," (omizu) I missed which one had been used, and mistakenly assumed that it was like the US, where when the water gets too cold you add more hot water. Not likely in this case! When my husband and I emerged bright red and asked what was going on, we were told that there was a real fire burning underneath the bathtub! Now I know what a lobster feels like... To make this particular bath pleasant you had to keep pouring in loads of cold water. Little did we know. The family we were staying with laughed their heads off at us, which was great, because it made us feel welcome and like we'd been adopted into the family.

There are also public baths. Towns will have public baths which are relatively simple; resorts (onsen) will have more complicated ones with tubs of different temperatures, fancy waterfalls, etc. Public baths are mostly divided into men's and women's, but are not always. (In some natural hot springs you can even bathe with monkeys - now there's inclusiveness.) Many people will take a washcloth into the tub with them, to cover up critical areas, but in general I haven't noticed a great deal of embarrassment among the people who bathe together in this context. The Japanese people I have observed are more embarrassed about having someone see them in the process of getting undressed than see them naked. Thus, outside the common bath area you'll generally find curtained stalls for the undressing part.

People in a shared bath can in fact be very friendly. Once when we visited an inn near the temples of Mount Koya, I was adopted once by a group of elderly ladies who decided that as a foreigner I must not know how Japanese baths were supposed to work, and took it upon themselves to teach me. Because they were sweet and solicitous, I let them teach me even though I'd been through it a few times by then.

Not only do I find the details of Japanese bathing culturally interesting, I also think they show the degree of cultural difference that is possible surrounding a single activity. You see architectural differences in the bathroom; different shaped tubs; different ways of heating water; a separation of the function of the bathroom (washing) and the bath (soaking); different rules of behavior including gender separation, context for modesty, etc. This doesn't even include the rules about who gets to go first/next/last in the family bathtub. When I first arrived in Japan, I was subjected to strict instruction by my first host family about saying the proper words when I emerged from the bath. The phrase was, "Osaki deshita." At first I had no idea what it meant, but later I realized it was a way of humbly recognizing the fact that the other members of the family had allowed me to bathe before them. Literally it means, "I was foremost."

Of course, since I can't resist generalizing from tiny details of cultural practice, I recommend putting some thought into the details of daily activities in any alien or fantasy culture you're working with. Including a "bath scene" (I have a shower scene in chapter 2 of For Love, For Power) or a scene that shows another common daily activity gives you a terrific opportunity to deepen the culture you're sharing with the reader, to illuminate taboos and other general trends of the society through the use of closely observed detail.

Juliette Wade lived in Japan for a total of three+ years, spending a year with two host families in Kyoto, a year in a dormitory for foreign students in Tokyo, and a year and a half in an apartment in the Tokyo suburbs.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

TTYU Retro: Develop Your Antagonist

Do you have a great antagonist?

I've seen a lot of posts about antagonists, and they always make me think (I love to think).

One of the things that makes a great baddie is the sense that this person might have been a good guy if not for certain small details of backstory. Some prime motivating event, perhaps, or a key element of character. This I find plausible because it makes sense for the antagonist to have quite a lot of strengths.

Another key element for an antagonist is a sense of vulnerability. I always loved that the dragon Smaug had a single scale missing in the middle of his chest - and was in denial about it. I mean, hey, that little flaw is awfully convenient for the good guys, right? But a good vulnerable point for an antagonist can be more than just convenient. It can be a major driver for that person's evil deeds: I know that I have this flaw, and that it may end me (whether a soothsayer has detected this depends on the story!) so I have to protect myself in whatever unethical way I can! Another possibility is to give your antagonist a flaw that also gives them strength. My character Nekantor is obsessive compulsive, and this is a real problem for him, but it also makes him very good at certain things like pattern detection (something of a bad guy version of Adrian Monk's situation).

But say you've got all this. Say your antagonist rocks in the evil, backstory, and vulnerability departments. Don't just set her loose in the story and let that be it! Not when you could be doing so much more.

This is what I mean by develop your antagonist.

Your antagonist deserves to have a fully developed character arc, as much as anyone else. Don't let her, or him, sit back in a corner and just do the same thing over and over to cause everyone trouble. Let your antagonist learn from mistakes. You've designed a creature of great power. Let it grow.

One way to grow an antagonist is the more common one: to let your antagonist react to ongoing events and have that change their attitude, their level of desperation, etc. We watched Kung Fu Panda 2 yesterday and it was a lot of fun to see Shen get more frustrated, angry and desperate as time went by, because that made his reactions more extreme and exposed his not-so-noble side. This is a great way to raise the stakes, because the antagonist will go farther and father in the attempt to prevail, making the task of the protagonists more and more difficult.

Lately though, I've been exploring another way to develop my antagonist - by letting story events increase his propensity for evil. This opportunity has come up because I'm working with a prequel-like situation, which is part of a much much larger story arc. So I'm actually in the middle of what was once my antagonist's backstory, and what it's teaching me is that antagonists don't need to be entirely reactive. They should be proactive, and they should be flexible in developing their strategies.

After all, how would the bad guys get to be so powerful if they couldn't grow and learn? Do they simply get to have other older bad guys willing to set them up in positions of power (how convenient for them)? But why in the world would big bad guys with power be interested in a new bad guy who could potentially cause trouble for them? There must be something awfully compelling about this small shark's characteristics that would make the bigger ones feel ready to risk meeting its teeth themselves. Why, and how, does an antagonist develop his skills at deception? Is it easy for him, or is it difficult?

If you can consider these questions, you may be able to bring an entirely new and exciting dimension to your antagonist.

It's something to think about.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fantastic article on Barack Obama's use of language

I'm back from my crazy travels of the summer, but still a bit jet-lagged and trying to pull my brain back together. I have posts in mind, just no energy to write them! This is frustrating. For the moment, though, I want to share this terrific article, Obama's English.

I hope you'll take the time to read it, because it's not really about politics as such, but about Barack Obama's skill with language and the discourses of different subgroups of Americans. As such, I found it absolutely fascinating. I hope you will too, and maybe we can discuss it in the comments.

I'm so happy to be back!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

TTYU Retro: Watching out for the "wrong" emotion in a secondary world (updated)

A commenter got me thinking some time ago by talking about "standard emotional content" and saying that "too much of the wrong emotions" can be bad for a story. She concluded, "The emotion has to be appropriate for what's happening in the scene and how the character is to be portrayed."

As a character-based writer, I have a hard time relating to the phrase "standard emotional content." However, it's easy enough for me to guess that it means people in a story feel what they are supposed to feel when they are supposed to feel it. They're being chased, I guess, so they feel panic, or they're doing X Y or Z so they need to feel this that or the other.

I certainly do suppose that if one sidetracks off the action into a navel-gazing emotional reverie that it would appear inappropriate. Needless to say, this is not what I do in my action sequences.

But what I'd rather think about today is what "the wrong emotion" might mean.

I suppose I could begin with the idea of not being in touch with one's characters. I think it's always valuable to be in touch with a character's mental states, and in fact this is the major reason why I write chronologically - because emotions and mental states tend to grow out of one another, and to concatenate.

When you're working in another world, particularly one with a different kind of social contract, I think it's worth spending extra time. Because in the worldbuilding context it's actually quite easy to end up with the "wrong" emotion, accidentally. I'm going to divide this into two different types of emotional errors: 1. errors of emotional type and 2. errors of degree.

Errors of emotional type occur when you're writing along and you have a social situation, and your character ends up feeling how an Earth resident would feel in that situation rather than how a native of your world would feel in that situation.

Think about how you feel in different social situations. The content of those social situations has a lot to say about what is an appropriate way to feel. What do you find comfortable and normal? What do you find embarrassing? Chances are people in your world won't quite agree, particularly depending on their social status relative to yours. A poor person won't probably feel comfortable speaking to a noble person at all, though they might feel perfectly comfortable addressing a group of peers.

In Varin, members of different castes have different emotional reactions to different situations. My noble boy Tagaret would feel slighted if his mother didn't look at him when she talks to him; my servant-caste boy Aloran feels very uncomfortable if he is looked at by nobles at all, and prefers to be out of his Lady's line of sight when she speaks to him. If I were to associate Californian standards of emotional reaction to eye contact to him, this would most definitely be a "wrong emotion"!

People in Varin have such different emotional reactions from our own that I have to make sure at the start of my story to establish a sort of emotional compass for readers by putting them into unusual, Varin-based emotional situations early on and letting them experience how the characters react.

One example is the scene where Tagaret goes to a concert with his friends and is looking around at girls - but trying not to look at their faces so that their bodyguards won't see him as a threat. He's not allowed to talk directly to a girl, but must speak to her bodyguard - and feels divided about speaking to the bodyguard, because he's experiencing the excited emotions he would have when speaking to the girl at the same time that he's feeling nervous about speaking with a bodyguard who could potentially beat him up.

Another example when Aloran thinks about washing his mistress. Because she takes this too personally, she won't let him bathe her, and he feels slighted professionally, but it doesn't come up to the level of personal hurt because it's a part of his job to wash her without feeling any emotional attraction.

Errors of degree occur when we give a character an emotional reaction that is either too weak or too strong for the context within the world. These are subtle and often quite difficult to avoid. I tend to think of them in terms of overreactions and underreactions, and they pattern pretty predictably with what is normal for our own experience. An overreaction will occur when we have a character who is quite accustomed to a particular type of experience react as strongly as we would in the same circumstances (which for us are not normal). An underreaction will occur when we have someone fail to find anything odd about a circumstance which for us is entirely normal, but which for them is highly unusual and might even be shocking. The best way to combat them is always to keep our emotional compass for the fictional world on hand, and think through reactions carefully as we go.

To use the examples I mentioned above, if I were to have Aloran feel personally hurt about being forbidden to wash his mistress, then that would be an overreaction. If I were to have Tagaret feel nervous, rather than shocked, about having a girl speak to him directly, that would be an underreaction.

The most common errors of degree that I notice in the stories I read are the kind that are related to questions of social power and privilege - poor people who hate those above them too much, and don't fear them enough, or noble people who spend a lot of effort and anger reviling the people below them when most of the time they wouldn't give them much thought at all.

When I'm writing along, these kinds of world-related emotional errors are the kind of thing that can make the story stop in its tracks. If you are getting an "odd feeling" from a scene or sequence, or if critique partners are raising their hands, take a look through for emotional errors. Errors of emotional type are much easier to find than errors of emotional degree. But being aware of the possibilities will help you to keep the emotional content of your story on track, and feeling real.