Saturday, March 18, 2017

Emotional Involvement in a Story

This month's topic was suggested by Dr. Bob. It asks if writers are ever emotionally drained by writing certain scenes, and how real are characters to a writer?

This brings to mind the beginning of the movie Romancing the Stone, where author Joan Wilder (played by Kathleen Turner) is bawling because she has finished her book with a very emotional final scene.

While I've read books that brought me to tears, it hasn’t happened while I write.

For me, no simple answer exists for this question, because I’ve learned that while authors work in many similar ways, the way they work also diverges in even more ways. However, I believe that for most writers to create main characters who seem real to the reader, they must be real to the writer. This has its own inherent problems because if other writers are like me, they must often wonder (and fear) if their characters are too much alike because they come from the same imagination.

For me, if I invest time in creating a character — and I have a system I hope will create different but real characters — they still all start out as invented beings. Eventually, as the story evolves they become very real because like any friend, I've spent time with them. The process of story creation involves stressing out the characters which involves creating situations that evoke emotion. The more the characters endure emotional turmoil, the more effect it has on how the reader feels. Their emotional reaction helps keep them reading. 

Yet, when I am writing a scene, no matter what the situation or the emotions involved, I am usually more in an analytical frame of mind rather than emotionally involved. I'm interested in getting things right. Later, when I’m rehashing drafts and involved in finding words that best convey the emotion or message that I want make is when I can get emotional. Can it be exhausting? Not really, finishing a scene for me is more of a relief, elation even. Later, after time has divorced me from the creation, I can reread a book and sense the emotion. At that time I’m usually glad it happened because I feel it might also affect the reader.

Please visit these blogs for more viewpoints on this topic:
Victoria Chatham
Marci Baun
Margaret Fieland
Judith Copek
A.J. Maguire
Rachael Kosinski
Dr. Bob Rich
Heather Haven
Beverley Bateman
Connie Vines 
Kay Layton Sisk 
Diane Bator
Skye Taylor
Helena Fairfax