Confessions #2

Joe’s Post # 51

After the post about writing sex scenes, I realized that I may have another problem. A bigger one. (Stop giggling!)

Maybe the challenge with writing sizzling sex scenes is connecting to the actual EMOTION of the scene. 

Oh, boy. Emotions… that’s ah, feelings, right? I think so. 

It’s not that I don’t feel things. If I cut my finger, it hurts and that’s a feeling, isn’t it? If it’s cold, I feel cold. See… feelings. I have them.

Manga_emotions-ENOk, I know there’s more. I certainly feel more. Guilt. Sorrow. Happiness. Anger. Hate. Love. Usually I have all those emotions on a drive into town. Or after a good taco. But I know if there’s one thing I need to work on when writing, it’s living inside the emotional being that is my character. 

Oddly enough, it seems that we don’t live our real lives by plot points (as much as I would love to.) So why should my characters? By knowing how they feel, what they hope for, what they fear, what they want and why it really, really matters to them, that character becomes someone we can identify with, someone with a bit of depth.

I know these things. But I just rewrote a scene that had a character starting a quest for her brother and sister who were lost in, well, let’s say, a river. Ok, that’s a good goal (being a guy, I LOVE goals.) My character wants something (and this makes me personally happy.)  But how can I make it better?

Emotions, baby, emotions. What if she feels guilty because she couldn’t hold on to them as they were swept away?  What if they had always counted on her to save them?What if she feels their loss? What if she hopes that they will be all right, but fears, oh god, she fears that they’ve died? Because of her. Because she was weak. 


But it’s tough to feel things for your characters and maybe that’s why I shy away from them. Maybe it’s because I’m a guy and we aren’t exactly the most evolved creatures when it comes to expressing our emotions or taking out the garbage.  Maybe it should surprise no one that this is an issue.

witBut let me tell you, feeling that fear, that loss, that joy, that betrayal, that emotion can be draining. It can even be painful. If I feel it strongly enough, I can even cry. Imagine what the writer would have gone through to write something like Wit.

But through that pain, something great can be born. Something that really connects with a reader.

And that’s the real point here. Emotion in writing makes the reader feel something. I’ve always been super happy to see someone laugh at my writing, (wait, no that came out wrong… when I see someone laugh at something I wrote!) 

But here’s my dirty little secret –  I love seeing someone cry when they read something I wrote. Then, I know that I’ve connected with them on a deep level. I know I’ve made them feel something powerful.

Sometimes I just forget this. Or avoid it.




4 thoughts on “Confessions #2

  1. Yes, I agree that standing in the shoes of someone you have created isn’t an easy or automatic thing to do. It is like shape shifting and as I reflect on my own writing process, I’ll even go so far as to say there is something Sci Fi about the whole thing. My mind just went to the Star Trek episodes that I love to watch and never tire of. Writing fiction is like bending everyday reality and I think that is part of its appeal for me. And in order for me to access the emotional aspect of my characters’ lives – acting skills are required for that. Improvisation, anyone?

  2. Reblogged this on coyotesmuse and commented:
    Joe at 5 Writers 5 Novels 5 Months has written another humorous and honest post about writing characters with emotional authenticity (my paraphrase). Thanks Joe, for your reflection and for motivating me in developing my own characters!

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