Author J. K. Coi Talks About Emotional Punch

Author J. K. Coi talks about adding Emotional Punch in fiction writing.

I have a great group of writer friends. One of them is a well-known erotic romance author. One of them is a talented Harlequin category romance author. One of them is an expert at short stories and humour. And the other is that author who delves into the human condition and makes you question everything. My place in the group has always been as the author who likes to evoke that deep emotional response in her writing.


Yet, as I started to write my first full length contemporary romance and realized it was going to take a much lighter tone than a lot of my previous books, I wondered how I would deliver the emotional punch without a lot of angst and brooding to carry it off. *grin*


But I quickly realized that a lighter book doesn’t have to skimp on the emotional connections. No matter what kind of book you choose to write, you must still have conflict and your characters must still go on a journey of discovery and growth, and that will always mean a little bit of pain and heartache before the happy ending. It also means choosing your moments wisely and making them subtle and strong instead of obvious and dark.


For example, from my recent release In Bed with the Competition:


Tingles of anticipation exploded over her skin when his hand touched her shoulder and smoothed all the way to her elbow.


He leaned in, his mouth close to the curve of her jaw. She held her breath.


“Look at that,” he whispered.


That wasn’t what she’d been expecting. He turned her around and pressed his chest up against hers and pointed. She gasped, but not because of the turtle that was swimming in the water a short distance away.


“Is that a sea turtle?” she asked. “It’s huge.”


“Yes.” His face was next to hers, over her shoulder. “I’ve never seen one. This is a first for me too.”


She looked up. “I’m glad we shared something that is new to both of us today.”


Something passed between them that felt more intimate than she was prepared for, maybe more intimate than he was prepared for, too. He cleared his throat and gently floated back a bit.


“Come on,” he said in a cheerful voice, “let’s see what else we can find.”


This is a really short little section pretty early on in the book that is both light and seemingly unimportant, but it shows the reader that something is happening between these characters. These are the kinds of soft, subtle moments that will continue to build on each other as the story develops until they`re impossible to ignore.


Here’s another one:


“Your drive to succeed always felt more like a hell-bent determination to prove something.” She bit her lip, trying to decide how to explain. “Maybe to the father who thought he was too good for you?”


His jaw snapped shut like a steel trap, and a tangible barrier went up between them that felt like ice. She’d gone too far. Should never have mentioned his father. “I…I’m sorry,” she stammered. “I only meant that—”


He nodded, but the tight frown on his face only deepened.


As the characters get closer to each other, they’re better able to hurt one another as well. No matter how light and fluffy your tone of voice is on the whole, I think it’s important to make sure to show that the characters have baggage, that things matter to them. They’re supposed to be people, and nobody is happy and carefree every minute of the day. We all experience ups and downs, and get hurt by the ones we love.


Anyway, as with all my books, my hope is to make the reader connect with the characters. I hope that I did a good job marrying a lighter book with one that still packs a solid emotional punch in In Bed with the Competition!


Thanks for having me today! Enjoy!!


J.K. Coi


This rivalry is too hot for the tropics…


Elizabeth Carlson and Ben Harrison used to be friends, coworkers...and almost lovers. But that was before Ben proposed mixing business with pleasure. Elizabeth refuses to lose her heart to a hotshot tycoon with a cutthroat, take-no-prisoners attitude. Not with the prospect of starting her own company at stake.


Driven to succeed in all areas of his life, Ben couldn’t resist the temptation to make Liz his. But then she walked away, igniting a bitter rivalry. Competing for the same contract at a Caribbean conference ignites sparks too hot to ignore, and Ben’s determined to finish what they started, even if it’ll only last a few steamy, tropical nights.


Elizabeth’s resolve begins to crumble under Ben’s blatant seduction. Can she walk away from a hot island fling with the sexiest man she’s ever known with her heart intact, or will losing herself in Ben destroy everything she’s fought to achieve?





  1. Congrats, JK! It's so true something lighter in tone can't be just as emotional as something darker. :)

  2. Hello JK. I like your excerpts and i think they zing with emotion. I remember reading Kate Walker's 'Tips...Write Romance...' type book years ago...emotion, emotion, emotion...was her advice.

  3. I think a book doesn't succeed unless the reader connects with the characters on a deep level and the best way to do that is to bring out those emotions we all experience.

  4. I agree that It is so important for the reader to connect with the characters! JK gave excellent examples of how to layer and build the emotions of the characters. Thanks for sharing. :)

  5. Hi everyone! Cherie, that's so true and sometimes hard to remember.

  6. Hi Denise! I've always tried to keep that key concept in mind. It seems to be what helps me link everything else in my stories together

  7. Crystal, you're absolutely right!

  8. Thanks DMS! Building layers is a great way to put it!

  9. I like a strong emotional thread in any type of book I read. It's great to see J.K. here.

  10. Agreed -- the best way to keep readers engaged is to create emotional connections to the characters.

  11. Yep, I agree and like your examples. Think I'd like to read this book!


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