Thursday, December 17, 2009

Writing & Emotions

We've all heard of the tortured artists. We've all seen some rather "unusual" characters in the various arts. Who are these people? Are they better artists than "normal" folk?

Where do we all fit in with all that?

Well, for me, I'm a bit of both (I'm a libra, I like balance. Sorry!). I'm not so much the tortured, weird artistic type (though I know I can be strange at times), but I am an extremely sensitive soul. I take so much to heart.

You know how when you see/hear comedians in interviews how they were picked on, grew up in crappy homes, etc. so they used comedy as a defense mechanism? Well, that can be said for me as well. Though I am no where near as sharp as they. But I do have this extremely sensitive & vulnerable side to me.

In my opinion, that sensitivity makes me a better writer. How so? Because I fully understand the depth of various emotions. I have seen what my charcters have seen. I have endured what they have endured. I know exactly how they feel. I think empathy is key in being able to relay emotions through words and to be able to genuinely touch the reader. Am I a tortured soul? I don't think so. A bit goofy, definitely off center, but I'm not creepy or goth or anything. I'm just a short, sensitive & emotional 'Rican. :)

As writers, we want to convey every detail of our story(-ies) to our readers. We want them to see the movie in our minds. We want them to hear and smell the same things the characters do. We want them to FULLY experience our books.

Thus, it is important as writers to open up. A clammed up writer has no readers. Why? Because their work will be dry and boring. Sorry, don't mean to offend anyone, but it's true. In order to really get your readers hooked, you have to make them laugh, to make them cry, to make them scared, or to make them smile. For me, good literature isn't always about the most eloquent wording (though there are some writers past and present who continually blow me away with their verbage). For me, it's all about "relate-ability." Can I as the reader relate to the people in the story? Do I care about the,? Do I like them or hate them (some times appropriately so, sometimes just because)? Am I getting sucked into their world because of their depth, and the depth of their emotions? As I writer, I ask myself those same questions but on the flip side. If you're not asking yourself those questions, you could easily be losing readership & not even know it!

Here's an example. Here is a clammed up writer's sentence: "She was scared." Wow. How unexciting! Granted, it states a fact. It is a sentence that can not be debated nor subject to interpretation. It is what it is. But what about something like this: "He was rather short for a man. He only stood at about five-foot eight. His hefty weight only made him appear shorter. He had thick, dark brown, curly hair. His goatee was thick and bushy as well.
His voice was wretched. Lareina felt uncomfortable and uneasy around him for some unknown reason. His presence made her skin crawl."

Yes, that is an excerpt from Unbreakable Hostage. This is my blog, and I have NO problem doing a shameless self-promotion! LOL.

Do you see the difference, though? I used his voice and his physical apperance to cause you and her to feel...well, icky. Big difference, isn't it?

If you find yourself struggling to truly relay emotions and reactions, do what actors do. Go back into your life. Whether it was a happy moment, a devastating moment, a moment of glory, whatever. Go back in your head and let yourself feel that emotion. Then take that feeling to put into words that will best suit your characters. Remember that your characters are people too. They deserve every opportunity to think, feel and experience. Don't short change them, your readers, or even yourself.

So in conclusion, use emotions! You don't need to be a tortured soul to convey emotions well, you just need to be able to use them! Use your own experience, your own fears, your own gladness, your own tears, etc. We, as your reader, are craving those emotions. So, write them out! You never know - you may just find it to be therapeutic for yourself as well! :)


Donaldson R. Boord said...

Fantastic blog, Lauren! Great reminder about fleshing out your characters. Remind me to tell you about my M&M theory of life sometime... your post reminded me of it.

L. E. Harvey said...

M & M theory of life, eh? Sounds interesting! LOL. I'd make a Laugh-In reference, but since I don't know the theory yet, I can't TRULY say, "Very interesting, but shoopid!" LOL :) I'll harass you about it! :) Glad you liked it! :)