Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Writing with Emotion Series – Part One

Does Emotion have a Place in Fiction

Writing emotion has always come naturally to me – it’s something that has been commented on repeatedly during my writing career. My family think it’s a strange paradox as I come across as an emotional introvert. I don’t shout and cheer at sports matches, I don’t cry during sad movies, I don’t feel the need to outwardly express emotion like others do ... and yet I am still an emotional being, I still feel things deeply and can express this through writing.

Emotion makes sense as we know that God is emotional and we are made in His image. The Bible speaks of God rejoicing over us, (Zephaniah 3:17), the Lord having compassion, (Judges 2:18) Jesus weeping, (John 11:35) and Jesus chasing the money changers from temple.(John 2:13-16)

Fiction must Contain Emotion
Emotion is the spark in a story – the thread that binds the writer to the reader. In order to capture people’s attention we need to introduce feelings and form heart connections. People read for entertainment. They also read because they want to become part of a story where they can feel love, joy, passion and hope, and work through pain, heartbreak and grief with the characters.

People Identify with Emotion
Have you ever bought a book because you identify with the main character? Maybe it tells the story of the close relationship between a child and her grandmother – or the betrayal of a father - or the birth of a disabled child. People are looking for stories that resonate with their own experiences.

Good Emotional Writing Comes from the Heart
In order to write emotion, you must be able to feel it deep inside. Superficial or academic-type writing will not form an emotional connection. Emotion is part of life and because we have lived through various experiences, we can identify with assorted emotions. Being able to distil this into words is the secret of writing from the heart.

Emotion Works in all Genres
Romance novels need love and tender hearts, thrillers need fear and excitement, teen novels need teenage angst and all novels need conflict. A book without emotion is like looking at a two dimensional picture – the depth and reality is missing.

Emotion is often looked down on or disregarded but it is a vital part of our humanity. It can be used to great effect in fiction by using a number of writing techniques. Come back next Wednesday when we’ll look at how to use emotion effectively in fiction.

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Tracy Ruckman said...

Wow - great article. I find it interesting that I'm so opposite of you - I cry at sad movies (and books), cheer at sporting events (and television programs and news articles online), and basically wear emotions on my sleeve. Yet, I find them so hard to write. Emotions are something my crit partners have dinged me about repeatedly. "How does this make your character FEEL?" Usually, I don't have a clue, unless it's a very intense emotion that everyone would feel.

I look forward to this series.

Phee said...

I'm excited to read more about how to write emotion. I think I do it pretty well some of the time, but I've also received feedback that people don't connect to my characters.