robinellen (robinellen) wrote,
robinellen
robinellen

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Honest emotion in writing...

After spending all day yesterday in panic mode (complete with pounding heart and shaking legs), once I realized I'd been terrified for nothing (dentist worries), I started thinking about emotions. You hear the phrase 'fighting with fear' -- that's exactly where I was. I spent the day trying to get control of my fear, trying to deal with it and not supress it (because I didn't want a migraine), and trying to understand what drove it.

For anyone with imagination, it doesn't take much to fuel fear. A little toothache turned into possible death (not kidding -- I have a truly overactive imagination), and I was a mess considering the possibility of leaving my kiddos motherless (yeah, you can laugh -- I am now too).

But thinking about writing, how do I get something like that on the page? Clearly it's easy to 'tell' it. But showing fear is something else, because fear -- and any strong emotion -- overrides everything else. A person doesn't think clearly; their actions are guided by a feeling which may or may not be true. If I'm writing in first person, if I become that character, then I can't see outside the emotion. It creates a number of unreliable impressions and interactions...which is where the other characters come to play.

melissa_writing talked about using multiple POVs the other day. I think this is part of why I'm drifting more and more in that direction. For some people (not me), becoming a character seems instinctive. They can put that character down on paper so strongly that the person is real to the reader -- we (as readers) experience all their emotions and circumstances right along with them.

I'm not as strong in this area. I tend to distance myself from the MC, even as I write. Of course, I tend to distance myself from any situation or emotion which threatens to overwhelm me in person, as well -- it's just part of my makeup. If I try to keep myself only in the MC's shoes, try to feel and see only what she feels -- my other characters become skewed. I think I need the other POVs (at least one, it seems), to clarify things and add depth and perspective.

I suppose I could also try writing in 3rd POV, but although I can do that for my secondary POVs, for some reason, my MC always comes out in 1st...hm.

What about you? How do you get emotions across without drowning in them?
Tags: writing and life
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