Ek’abo Ebi! (Welcome Family!)
Love, Hate, Fear, Happiness. What does it take to write about emotions? What does it take to be able to use words to express emotion? To get a reader to feel and understand a character’s pain, anxiety, joy, exhilaration you name it. Does one have to personally experience an emotion in order to write about?
I remember reading a story where one of the main characters was a writer. The character was famous and had published many books. In a review written by a critic in the story, the character was accused of being incapable of creating a true love scene. He said that he did not think that the author had ever been in love. He wondered if the character had ever experienced real heartbreak or had ever been separated from a great love. He said the love scene was bland, lukewarm at best. And until he truly experiences it: all encompassing, I can’t breathe without you, my life is over if you are not with me love, he will never be able to truly express it on paper. Goodness… Can you imagine a critic saying that about you? We pour our heart and emotions into writing. The last thing we need is to be told that we are lacking.
I’m not sure I completely agree with the critic’s view. You can witness an individual’s pain. You may have witnessed someone’s grief when they received bad news. You can witness a person’s joy. My friend was in the birthing room with her sister the day that her niece was born. You can witness tension. I did the day my son came home after getting in trouble at school. J
But I do agree that life experiences bring something more to a story; a way of connecting with a reader on a higher level. Say you write a book about your experiences as a child of divorced parents. You’d want the reader to see the break up through your eyes. To understand the anger, frustration or fear that a child would experience when their parents go their separate ways. God forbid one of them gets remarried. “What about me? I thought I was daddy’s little girl or daddy’s best man? Why do I have to talk to her? Why do I have to share my daddy with her? Doesn’t anyone care about how I feel? He’s having a new baby?!” Just from a few questions, you can feel, imagine and maybe even visualize the hurt, pain or frustration a young girl or boy would feel if she or he was placed in such a situation.
Writing about emotion and doing it right can be just as difficult as writing about a different culture. You may feel like you’re swimming in Dungeness waters; walking on a path that’s unknown to you. If you are writing about someone else’s experiences; how they felt when it happened, you want to do it justice. No one wants to be told that their written recollection of someone else’s emotions or their idea of how a person should feel in a situation, is bland or lukewarm at best J
The better you get at building your skill, the more you understand that there are words that give that “extra punch” to a scene. A shrug of a shoulder, a roll of an eye, a sigh, a clench of a fist. Sometimes body gestures say just as much as words. Then there are emotions that occur from within. “Carol could feel it. A flutter in her stomach; a tightening in her chest. She wrapped her arms around her torso; hoping to protect herself. Carol sucked her teeth in disgust. Why did this have to happen every time she saw him? He’s married for goodness sake! It has been 10 years and nothing has changed.” From those few lines, the reader experiences the character’s nervousness, vulnerability, irritation and longing. It’s obvious that she harbors feelings for another character, but she hates the way it makes her feel. J
Have you written an emotional scene in your book? Does it call out to the reader? If you are not sure, ask someone you trust to read it over and have them give you their opinion. I’ve done this with great results in the past.
Mari e laipe!
See you soon!
Thanks for visiting ‘Amachi is Hope.’ If you were inspired or felt a connection with today’s blog (or any of my previous entries) please leave a comment. J