Saturday, May 11, 2013

Make Me Feel Something

I’ve been told at times that I’m an overly emotional person, that I can be too sappy or quick to anger.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with feeling. It’s part of what makes being human so great. You get far more out of life when you can experience a full range of emotions. 

You also get more out of art and literature too.

That may seem obvious to most of you. Of course! When you read something you should be made to feel, that’s what makes reading fiction worthwhile!

But I’ve picked up many books that have not moved me. Me? The overly emotional person? Yes.

Why is that? Why do some books or movies bring me to tears, make me curse out loud or take a swing at an unsuspecting door (not too often that one!)?

It’s not necessarily the subject matter or the setting. One book I read that didn’t move me one iota was a story of Hannibal and his struggle with Rome – this is a story that is fraught with emotional upheaval, and yet I felt I had just read a carpet cleaning pamphlet.

That’s not to say that others didn’t feel something when reading that book, but it goes to show that writers tread a fine line through the field of potential readers. They will touch some and completely miss others.

I’m thinking out loud here. There is no hard and fast rule. We are all different and affected by myriad things.

But there is something that a writer can do, something to help him or her touch readers.

A writer should write what truly moves him or herself.

If a writer is not moved by what he or she writes, there is a definite problem. If I’m not moved to laughter, tears or fury by my own story, how can I expect my readers to feel anything?

It’s easier and more exciting than ever for writers to get their work out to readers. If one is prolific enough, one can put a book out every week.  Serials are popular again and there are some very good ones out there. There are also some that are not so good, but that is just my opinion as a reader.

I never name titles that I don’t like because I don’t think it fair to trash someone else’s work. But as writers, we should keep in mind that most people read fiction to be moved, transported, pierced through the heart.

As writers we need to make sure that our work is infused with genuine emotion, something that readers can relate to no matter the setting or period.

We should also stay true to ourselves and our vision, because the moment we leave that path we lose readers.

I try to explore my fears and fantasies, the things that inspire me to no end.

The ancient Greeks believed in the emotional arc of a story and how it was essential to audience fulfillment. As a writer, I want that too. For if I don’t adhere to that journey and fill it with a whole range of emotion, by the end of the story I feel that something is distinctly lacking.

Whether reading or writing, when I flip over that last page or type that last word, I want to feel an exhilarating thrill creep up my spine, I want to be weeping, sighing or laughing.

When the story ends, I want that final image to resonate for a long time, to haunt me. I want all stories to make me feel something that is genuine, beautiful and human.

Otherwise, what’s the bloody point?

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