For this go-round of the blog chain, Christine asked
How do you add emotional depth to your stories? How to do know when you have enough emotional content? And how to you keep it authentic?
Now, I'm going to be honest with you. I stared at these questions. And then I stared at them some more. It's like I'm being asked how I breathe. I don't know, I just do! You know, breath in, breath out. Easy, right? Right?
I've been looking at other people's answers to this question -- Michelle's, for example, or Elana's. I mean, Michelle talks about emotions she hasn't experienced. Huh? And Elana says she has trouble with emotional writing. Wha?
For me, the problem is how to dam back the flow of emotion. I once had a friend sit down across from me and say, "It's amazing how many emotions you must experience." And I said, "Huh?" And he said, "From your writing, there's such a rainbow of emotions. I pretty much have two -- okay and pissed off." And I thought, That sounds kinda boring.
I'm extremely comfortable writing about emotions, including the ugly ones--greed, lust, schadenfreude, envy, maliciousness, you name it. I am an emotional maelstrom, and I'm happy to dump some of it off into my stories. Sometimes I'd swear that's why I write in the first place -- it gives me an outlet for all of that emotion.
I guess the most pertinent question for me from the ones Christine asked is the last one: How do you keep it authentic?
The two things that are a challenge for me are 1) Making sure the emotion fits the character (I bleed into my characters from time to time, which isn't so good) and 2) Making sure the reader appreciates why the character is emoting all over the place. Like Annie said, it's not so good when the characters seem to be freaking out over nothing.
I do make character sheets, but they don't include things like hair and eye color. They read like psychological test results, and they help me keep my characters (and their emotions) in character. I also do my very best to have characters respond at a level that wouldn't get them diagnosed as histrionic or borderline. And when all else fails, I have my fantabulous readers to save me from myself!
How would you answer Christine's questions, dear Reader? Feel free to play along using your own blog or the Comments below!
Sandra's post came before mine, and Kate's will come next!
Labels: blog chain