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DiAnn Mills | Emotion: The Core of Story Intimacy

Facing the Enemy
DiAnn Mills




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September 2023
On Sale: September 5, 2023
Featuring: Carson; Trenton; Risa
352 pages
ISBN: 1496451953
EAN: 9781496451958
Kindle: B0BX1CDQNJ
Paperback / e-Book
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Also by DiAnn Mills:
Facing the Enemy, September 2023
Concrete Evidence, October 2022
Trace of Doubt, September 2021
Airborne, September 2020


The core of most objects is tough and hard to crack. It’s the center, seed, or nucleus, usually storing what makes up the object. Think of a seed and how it has the properties to grow into an ear of corn or a tree. Translate that seed to the core of a living, breathing story. The intimacy is emotion, and the character must have a reason to reveal the heart of their being. When a writer discovers the why of actions (motivation), the uphill climb to resolve a problem or reach a goal takes on purpose. The challenge is forcing the character to reveal the emotions that are often bound in pain. The character doesn’t understand their emotional wound prevents them from their full potential and prohibits them from achieving success.

Feelings wrapped in physical, mental, or spiritual suffering rise from fear, grief, guilt, shame, anguish, sadness, sorrow, torture, betrayal, bitterness, depression, loneliness, oppression, abandonment, persecution, physical abuse, verbal abuse, and more. Our characters don’t want to relive the events causing these sensations any more than we do. It’s easier to stuff emotional baggage. Our characters need a reason to share what happened, and the motivation must be bigger than the original pain.


Story Intimacy

Story intimacy occurs when the writer successfully bonds a character to the reader in a relationship that defies the fictional realm. Emotion lies at the center of their attachment by igniting emotions in varying degrees of positive and negative responses—whether conscious or subconscious. The complexity occurs when motivation triggers feelings, behavior, and personality into expressions of specific actions. These unique truths can be subjective or objective but real to the character. The value of understanding emotion means a writer successfully connects the core of our humanity to a character walking through the pages of a story and shows how life’s happenings affect him/her.

Logic anchors at an opposite end of the spectrum from emotions. Emotions don’t rely on a gathering of information, processes, or analysis but on internal sentiments based on a sundry of events. Yet showing a legitimate emotion like anger when someone runs a stop sign and hits your car is a logical reaction. The depth of the anger and how it’s shown and internalized depends on life experiences.

Intimacy draws the reader closer to the story, eliminating boundaries to form an attachment outside what appears logical. A kinship occurs in sympathy and compassion for the character’s plight. The reader escapes their reality to worry, fret, cry, cheer, laugh, celebrate, and a host of other responses. Those reactions don’t have to match the character’s for the reader to identify with the situation, only be relationally connect.

A story that resonates with a reader is buried deep within the character’s spirit. The writer’s job is to bring the adventure to life and pave the way for the reader to recognize a connection point. Sometimes the character tamps down what they believe is impossible for them to achieve. Maybe the character lacks confidence or the tools to accept a challenge. The desire stays buried until an action, or a series of actions, yanks motivation to the surface. What is the character willing to fight for? Struggle to attain? Sacrifice for the betterment of others? Perhaps give up their life to protect? Pose those questions to the character. The answers won’t easily jump onto the page because they are sensitive, personal. A worthy character deserves the right to privacy and to establish trust with the writer before unveiling deep-rooted secrets.


Emotional Motivation

Establishing motivation is the key to creating unique emotions that unlock the character’s true self, the story’s core. Jotting down a goal or a problem to solve means nothing without a vehicle to drive the behavior.

So how do we discover motivation and grasp the heart of a story? As stated previously, knowing the character supersedes all story prep. Examine what the character wants more than anything in the world. Why? Is the item tangible or intangible? What is its value? Is it realistic? Is he/she afraid to pursue the want? Beyond the want, what does the character need? Is the want a disguise for what is needed for physical, mental, or spiritual well-being? Are the clues in the backstory? None of these are easy to answer and take time and patience.

According to Tonya Reiman in The Power of Body Language, the world and its people share seven universal emotions: surprise, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, happiness, and contempt. Doesn’t it make sense for our character to experience all seven in a story? Even multiple times?

Emotion uses feelings and instincts for the character to draw conclusions about circumstances based on their life. The response begins in the mind where the character chooses what will occupy time and energy. The expression can remain internal and/or manifest externally.

The bigger the action that prompted the reaction or emotion, the more intense the response. A character doesn’t experience one distinct feeling but a collection at different levels. We are too complex to fit an established pattern or template. Show the emotions with different responses and reactions that fit the circumstances and the character’s traits. Think back on a highly emotive incident in your life. How did you react and work through what happened? Now imagine walking through the same situation again. Would you respond the same way? Probably not, which is why our characters show varied emotions. That makes them real.

Emotion in a scene must equal the tension and conflict of the story. If there is too much, then the scene is overdone. If there is too little, the scene falls flat. Balance is the key to credibility.


Facing the Enemy

When the long-awaited reunion between Risa and her brother, Trenton, ends in tragedy, Risa is riddled with guilt, unable to cope with the responsibility she feels over his death. On leave from the FBI, Risa returns to her former career as an English teacher at a local college, only to see her past and present collide when one of her students, Carson Mercury, turns in an assignment that reads like an eyewitness account of her brother’s murder, with details never revealed publicly.

Alarmed by Carson’s inside knowledge of Trenton’s death, Risa reaches out to her former partner at the FBI. Special Agent Gage Patterson has been working a string of baby kidnappings, but he agrees to help look into Carson’s background. Risa and Gage soon discover their cases might be connected as a string of high-value thefts have occurred at properties where security systems were installed by Carson’s stepfather and children have gone missing. There’s a far more sinister plot at play than they ever imagined, and innocent lives are in danger.


Mystery | Christian | Romance Suspense [Tyndale House Publishers, On Sale: September 5, 2023, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781496451958 / eISBN: 9781496451972]

Buy FACING THE | Kindle | | Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play | Powell's Books | Books-A-Million | Indie BookShops | Ripped Bodice | Love's Sweet Arrow | | | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About DiAnn Mills

DiAnn Mills

Expect an Adventure

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She weaves memorable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure?

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards, the Golden Scroll, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, an active member of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, the Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. DiAnn continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.


Call of Duty | FBI: Houston | FBI Task Force





1 comment posted.

Re: DiAnn Mills | Emotion: The Core of Story Intimacy

Thank you so much for featuring me today with Facing the Enemy! So appreciate
(DiAnn Mills 3:36pm September 5)

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