Do you ever get emotional as you are writing your book, and if so, how do you deal with it?
When a writer creates a book, they have an intention or reason for doing it. A book is an immense amount of work, so there’s always a goal or something that the writer wants to accomplish with their book.
What were your goals and intentions in your book (pick one), and how well do you feel you achieved them?
Here are their unedited responses.
I have definitely felt emotional writing my novels. If you’re not feeling it, you’re not doing it right. If you don’t experience the emotions of the characters as you’re writing it, neither will your reader. Readers of fiction want to be taken on an emotional journey. I don’t care how technically correct you write, if you’re not touching the reader’s feelings you’re wasting your time and theirs. The way I deal with the emotions IS to write. Unloading it, putting it down for posterity is very cathartic.
I feel it’s vital for a writer to feel the emotions of their characters. We create them and then, often put them in dreadful and desperate situations. In order to write compelling scenes, it’s our job as writers to create emotional tension. When I begin to write such a scene, I write poetry to help me to tap into the desired emotions for those characters. These poems also are a means to help me process the emotions I feel as a writer. I never intend to share these poems, but I do consider them a vital aspect of writing emotional scenes.
This is tough for me to answer. Even though I write fiction, I usually have a reason for writing the book. A visceral reason for either a character or a situation. Just about all of my books -whether a romance or a mystery- deal with injustice or justice, how ever you want to look at it. I try to bring injustices to light or show justice has won by the end of the book. There are times I am gritting my teeth as I write a scene that I hate but that needs to show the injustice. Or I smile and feel lighthearted when someone wins or challenges an injustice and wins. So my dealing with the emotion is to, hopefully, make the reader feel the feelings I and my characters are going through. .
My third book was the first time I had ever killed a friend. A smartass friend, but nevertheless a friend. As the details of his death began to unfurl and I imagined how his wife, daughter and friends would react, I got a bit choked up.
When I realized that my emotions were getting carried away I had to take a step back. My emotive reaction was indicative of a few things: that my writing during that period had been all mushy-gushy, not something anyone would want to read, and especially not something anyone reading a comedy would want to read and that I wasn’t equipped to write about the death of a friend.
The first part was remedied in a lengthy and thorough edit. The second part…well, that would be a spoiler alert. I will ask one thing, if you ever have the pleasure of meeting Ed, my 3rd book victim, don’t tell him about this post. I know I’ll never hear the end of it
In the first seventeen drafts (or so) of Storytellers my ending never failed to make me cry. I thought – that’s amazing, I am so going to ellicit a response from the reader…until I remembered the movie Dancer in the Dark. The ending made me cry and Lars von Trier just cut the movie right there, the lights in the cinema went on, and everyone was completely quiet except for the occasional sobs. I hated this feeling. And I realised this was exactly what I was doing. The ending changed.
I also had a part in the middle where my protagonist told a story of his father. It made me cry every time as well. It was also completely unrealistic for this particular character to speak this way about any topic at all, and didn’t actually add anything. It had to go. It was a way to make the reader react, sure, but it was so on the nose it would practically make the reader look like a professional boxer with a fresh injury.
On the other hand, after 21 drafts there are parts that still make me laugh. They are still in, polished, rewritten many times until I felt they were just right – but still funny. I would never want to read a book that would just be dark and sad all the time. Why would I write one? So now when I get emotional while writing I examine the emotions, then decide whether they actually fit what I am aiming for. Scary? Good. Funny? Yes. Exciting? I sure hope so. Forced tear-jerker? (No offense meant, Lars, but…) No.
Bjørn Larssen – writer, blacksmith, spiritual Icelander
These two words go together like peanut butter and jelly when I think about how I write. My books are fiction and tell stories of everyday women overcoming the trauma of domestic violence and other types of abuse. In the stories, I reflect on my past through the characters. The characters open up their hearts to me as the stories unfold. I often find myself pausing over the keys as I rediscover how writing has been essential in my healing process.
I often hand write in notebooks, on napkins, random scraps of paper and anywhere I can when ideas strike me, especially if they invoke emotion. I have voice memos in my phone that contain thoughts that I can’t get out of my mind when I am driving. Many of these notes and ideas are never seen or heard of again. Some of the ideas make it into a box or a notebook at my house and are buried away for months or years. When I come across them, I am amazed at the depth and often forget even creating them.
When I was writing my first book, Coming Home, I often found myself crying and going back to journals I’d hand written when I was working through escaping a domestic violence situation. I took heart in using my experience to craft strength in my characters as they pressed forward through similar situations.
Dreams do come true – but only if we listen. When budding and hesitant writers ask me for advice, I often tell them to keep a notebook handy at all times. Write down random thoughts and tuck them away. Date them if you remember to. Get started on your dream. Just go for it. One word at a time.
Book 1 in my Whisper Creek Series is available now in both print and ebook.
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and anywhere books are sold!
Books 2 & 3 are coming soon!
The Locksmith made me cry at the end, every time. It went through eleven edits so … eleven cries! I didn’t deal with it, I just enjoyed a good cry. My current novel has a particularity nasty scene in it that makes me feel upset and uncomfortable. I’m not sure how to deal with it, and with the current talk about ‘triggers’, just how readers will deal with it. I’ll see what my editor has to say, and the beta readers. Maybe this scene will get doctored, but currently I feel it’s important to the readers understanding of my antagonist. It’s not vital to the plot as such, but shows some vital elements of characterisation and will up the reader’s sense of danger for the protag. We shall see…