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  • Meg Howald

Emotional Momentum

“No tears in the writer; no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer; no surprise in the reader.” – Robert Frost


How does a writer overwhelm a reader, make tears engorge their eyes, or jolt them with a surprising discovery? A writer does this by exposing truths: foundational truth which is universal truth about their story, the psychological truths of their characters, and the truth of a beautifully placed word, like a perfect music note, an unforgettable moment of literary magic.


from The Drowning of Margaret Hannagh


He found the man lying on his back by the river, forcing his blood-scarred eyes open in the fading light. Mr. Farini held the weapon firmly with both hands as the man struggled to sit up, then collapsed.

“Please help me. I…I want...” His words pushed through the last of his blood, draining from his lungs. “I want to go home" he cried, "to my son’s room." Will you help me there? I want to die there?” He held out his arm for Mr. Farini to take. "Please, I'm begging you."

“Do you know who I am?”

“Yes.” The man's arm fell to his side. He lay motionless. His lips moved - words, helpless prisoners. “I killed your wife.”



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