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Debra Wallin, CWC Club President, welcomes existing members, new members and guests to our meeting.

Kerry Hubbard, Membership Chair, talks about the great turnout for the Nonfiction Workshop with Tommy Tomlinson October 21st and the benefits of membership.

Kerry Hubbard, Membership Chair explains the member game for this meeting.  In six words describe your worst Thanksgiving.

Roger Colberg won with his entry: Slow service. Lousy food. Grandpa died.

Other noteable entries:

Turkey great, but brother’s wife leaving. Blair Peery
Surrender to endless traffic—Chinese restaurant. Irv Edlestein
Friends gone. Empty campus. Lonely dorm. Pat Gilmer
Heater words dress more than salads. Gina
Too much snow. Not enough turkey. Elizabeth Miller
Thanksgiving in jungle. Long for home. Jack Hemphill
Three feet of snow. On Thanksgiving? No name
Popcorn. Soup. Television. Empty house. Alone. Debra Wallin
Family. Stress. Tranquilizer. Daze Leave. Breathe. Rajni Gupta
Eat, drink, laugh Grandma’s limited mentality. C. Crockett
Navy cousin left giblets frozen inside. Jon Heaslet
No turkey found to be gluten-free. Susan Mills Wilson
Overseas. No turkey. No cranberries. Alone. Racelle Weiman
Bad turkey sandwich in Charleston hotel. Wanda Craig
All family members out of town! Margaret Bigger
Thanksgiving gravy and then the diarrhea. Don Fidler
Dog bites into turkey; fowl ending! Landis Wade
Game lost. Head down. Police action. Dave Collins
Offensive jokes, cigarette smoke, drunk uncle. Jenifer Ruff
Dad confronts first date…last date. Susan
Beer and wine, severed dear head. Jenny Weston
Chitlins and bikers steal my father. Lou (guest)
Unseasoned ham and Dad’s new wife. Patrice Gopo
Post breakup meltdown, not enough alcohol. Tracy Curtis
Turkeys do fly at our table. Pat Everett
Burned Mom’s stuffing. She’s never forgotten. Kathie Collins
Ate collards at eight ‘til couldn’t. Bob Rogers
Turkey sandwich at the diner. John Oakes
Fresh turkey needs to be cooked. Charlie
Minnesota sucks, one was spent there. No name
Turkey feather lodged tightly. Die coughing. Mary Struble Deery

Susan Mills Wilson, Critique Group Chair, announces that from our October Critique Group meeting we formed six new critique groups!  If you are still looking for a critique group to join, please contact Susan Mills Wilson .

Kathie Collins, Program Chair and Charlotte Lit representative, announces writer classes available for those who want to write a book from start to finish.  Check out Charlotte Lit website for more details.

Emi Miller, Publicity Chair tells members when deadlines are for announcements to be included in media print.

Landis Wade, Program Chair, introduces Donald Fidler our speaker.  Besides his impressive credentials, Landis shared that Don lived and worked with the Alutiiq tribe in Akhiok, Alaska, the Al Moqbali Bedouin tribe near Sohar, Oman, the Kalkadoon Aboriginal Tribe in the outback of Queensland, Australia, and the Te Tau Ihu Maori Tribes on the South Island of New Zealand.

Don started his presentation with a little science.  He described the function of the amydala in our brains.  It controls perception, emotion, and the ability to fantasize. Emotional arousal increases memory consolidation, allowing for creation of a permanent record. {Emotional stories stay with us over time, neutral stories fade from memory.}  The amydala is what assigns importance to events so they are remembered.

People want stories that show emotions so they can relate to the characters.  Don discussed  eleven observations about how writers show emotions.

Observation 1: Most simply, we writers describe what happens. We state an event; allow it to sit in quiet space. Room for readers to react, journey, and discover their own, responsive emotions. Examples: {A cake fresh from the oven fell onto the floor. A wild animal approached. A colleague attempted to kiss. A child ran into a street. An ex-lover pointed a gun.)

Observation 2: We writers show perceptions that characters experience through their senses of vision, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. Examples: (Dorothy saw a tornado approaching. Dorothy felt glass slippers upon her feet. Dorothy smelled flying monkeys.)

Observation 3: We writers show characters responding with immediate innate or learned body reactions: startle, retreating, gasping, screaming, running. There are certain shadows, movements, colors like blood red, to which we in the animal kingdom are wired to respond, no learning or experience required. Examples of innate responses: {Hearing the growl, Mitsi’s hand jerked away from the cage—stated as if Mitsi had nothing to do with it, as if her hand had autonomy. Thompkins screamed as he felt an eel wrap around his ankle}.

Observation 4: We writers show characters experiencing physiological responses, responses that often lag milliseconds to seconds after our immediate innate reactions. Rapid pulse, heavy breathing, shivering, sweating, goose bumps, crying, fainting. Examples: {Within seconds of the eel wrapping around his foot, Thompkins’ heart raced. He could barely catch his breath. A moment later, he began crying.)
Observation 5: We writers show characters experiencing simple internal emotions: fear, excitement, anger, as well as experiencing delayed, more complex internal emotions: love, hate, sadness, joy, arousal. Examples: {After spotting a waterspout on the horizon, Nemo paralyzed in fear. Droopy brown puppy eyes melted Anna. Witnessing Lady Lockwood’s exposed ankle, the Baron became aroused. The shouting racist’s comments elicited Burton’s hate.}

Observation 6: We writers show filtered, countered affects that characters consciously or unconsciously demonstrate in the presence of other people. Acting nice to hide underlying hate; acting mean or distant to hide unrequited love. There are wonderful studies of research subjects reacting to photographs, believing they are not being observed. No matter from what culture they emerge, what their genders, ages, educational backgrounds are, they demonstrate identical emotions. If, however, they are told they are being observed, they censor, alter their expressed affects.xiv Writing examples: {Gretta gritted her teeth when the debutants entered the restaurant, then smiled, waved at them, and sweetly said, “It’s so good to see y’all!” Johnson loved his Army buddy Mark more than anyone he had known in his life, but when his friend emerged from the helicopter that had transported him safely home, walked by the bands playing and crowds waving banners, Johnson approached Mark, fist bumped with him, and flatly said, “Welcome home, soldier.”}
Observation 7: We writers show cognitions, such as characters exhibiting post-event thinking. Judging, assuming, comparing, contrasting, concluding. Examples: {I think that dog doesn’t like me. At least that dog is smaller than the dog from yesterday. Surely it’s someone’s pet and won’t bite me. But my granddaughter’s cat bit me. I think I’ll walk on the other side of the street.}

Observation 8: We writers show other cognitions: characters having memories stirred by events. Recent memories, childhood memories, faulty memories. Examples: {The fireworks at the county fair forced the combat veteran into remembering explosions in Afghanistan. My commander talks down to me just like my big brother used to. Aunt Mary remembered walking ten miles to school, uphill both directions, always in the snow, or in severe heat, or both at the same time.}
Observation 9: We writers show other cognitions, such as characters forming fantasies as reactions to events. Examples: {I pulled hard enough for the Tarheels that I helped them score that basket. I was a prince; she was my princess. I know I would be a better president.}
Observation 10: We writers show defenses and coping methods characters use to deal with their emotions. Blame, denial, avoidance, rationalizing, intellectualizing, sublimation. Examples: {Alice blamed her corporate predecessor for the company continuing to lose money. Bombs exploded as bullets zipped by Jonathan’s head, and yet he continued up the hill. Pheona lost the match, but felt certain she performed better than her opponent or any of her teammates. As Marta yelled at Sheldon, Sheldon mused how Marta often lost her cool, and he thought, surely a genetic trait. The hurricane crippled the village, but Mrs. Dalton guided her fourth graders to color pictures of how they experienced wind and floods.}

Observation 11: We writers choose how to position emotional events within context. Where we place our “showing,” is like film editors editing movies. Where we insert nuggets of film is everything. Same with writing. When we locate a simple statement such as, “He saw a bear,” as the last line of prose in a chapter, it becomes a—as they say in movies—a cliff hanger. Space follows. We end the story, movie, or prose. Leave people dangling. If that sentence is not the finale, but is followed by another chapter, then we can “cut to”—in movies—or “place” in prose, nuggets that compliment, enhance, or contrast with our cliff hanger. Example: If we end a chapter with, “As Ansel rounded the edge of a cliff wall, he saw a bear,” time is required for readers to deal with the blank area on that last page and turn to the next chapter. Time. Quiet. Space. Perhaps the next chapter begins, “Ansel’s father finished tearing into the turkey with his carving knife, juices streaming down his arm, his bare hands ripping meat from bone.” This juxtaposition prods readers to associate Ansel seeing the bear, with the father performing violence upon a former turkey. Readers associate the two events because our brains are wired to search for causality. Ansel’s family is willing to commit violence to gain dinner. Perhaps the bear will commit violence upon Ansel to gain dinner. The two scenarios provide opportunity for readers to mix events emotionally.

IN CONCLUSION: Eleven techniques, eleven choices. A woman walks toward a door. We can write, “She heard a sound behind the door.” We can write, “Her hand trembled on the doorknob.” We can write, “Her palm was sweating.” We can write, “She recalled when her drunken ex-boyfriend stood behind a previous door.” We can write, “She fantasized there was an attacking clown on the other side of the door.” Writers have options to stir emotion, but for all of this to succeed readers’ mirror neurons must be functioning, allowing readers to have emotions that parallel or respond to characters’ emotions. Without readers’ mirror neurons, there is no empathy process; there is no dance between words on paper and readers.

Boogieban: Don then read from his book Boogieban to illustrate how he used some of the observations.  “We have always known how to send our young to war, known to welcome them back with parades, garlands, and trumpets. We have never known how to bring home their hearts and souls. – Boogieban is the story of a young soldier returning from Afghanistan with nightmares. The story has strong elements about war … but is not a play of war. It is a play of the journey that two men from two different military generations take together, a journey they take to that mystic place where hearts alter. I hope audiences find that mystic change as they too share in this journey.” – Donald Fidler

Don shared that Boogie ban was originally a play and the soldiers who watched the play, many times would hug the cast members, because they finally felt understood.
For Donald Fidler's complete presentation click HERE.

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