Monday, March 26, 2012

Using Emotion in Your Writing

I love trees. They are beautiful things. But even beautiful trees carry sap.

And the truth is, so do many writers. I am among them.

Photo by: jrsnchzhrs, courtesy of Flickr
It is easy, far to easy, to get sappy in our writing. We think that our beautiful love scene is perfect; but we let it sit for a couple of weeks and wala! the beautiful stuff we thought we'd written sounds more like that gooey stuff coming from a tree.

The kiss is not quite as perfect as we thought, the actions of the main character and his beloved are far from romantic, and the very spot in which they are standing might just have turned itself into an unwanted cesspool for its UN-connectivity to reality.

How did it happen?

Photo By: Alex Groundwater, courtesy of Flickr
I'm not really sure, but I think emotion in writing has a way of getting away from us if we're not careful. It floats away and dances on its own and before long we realize that we are no longer connected to what we have written. I have read far too many romance books that are like this, but many people still read them anyway and it scares me.

I am reminded of a soap opera that I used to watch. I could count on two things: Breakups and getting back together. I wondered why my life wasn't as exciting. Not that I wanted to go through a break up, it's just that my life seemed so boring in comparison.

I have since realized that what most readers want is some sort of grounded reality in the midst of fantasy, or a western, or a modern romance. They want emotion that is real and emotion that they can relate to. Life isn't all about breakups, it's about sacrifice and truth. Giving and getting. Being real.

And the best books I have read where emotion (and not sappiness) are at the center, do just that.

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