February 22, 2022

Sometimes, while reading a scene in a book where events are turning against the protagonist, in the back of my head I’m hoping that another character will show up as an ally and change the direction of events in the protagonist’s favor.

When that happens, I cheer.

This morning, I read a scene in Nemesis Games, Book 5 of the Expanse series by James S.A. Corey, that turned out just like that.

I was so happy. That emotional payoff—the stress of worrying alleviated by an alliance the character didn’t expect but I hoped for—made my day.

I also set myself a mental reminder to add emotional payoffs to my editing checklist for future books. Because I’m an intuitive writer, emotional payoffs in my books up to now have been instinctive. But there’s always room to tighten these up during edits. And if I can make a reader grin at the start of their day the way the payoff in Nemesis Games made me grin, then I’m doing good work.

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