Posted by : Sherri Cornelius Thursday, October 22, 2009

Oopsie, a glitch occurred when I posted this, and it showed an unfinished version. I've fixed it now.

I've been thinking about my huge breakthrough yesterday, the realization that sometimes I resist writing because I don't want to feel my characters' emotions. Yet I don't remember having this problem with the previous book, and I was trying to figure out what exactly had changed from the previous book to this one.

For sure, I identify with the current main character in the WIP more, in that she is a contemporary young lady with father issues, so that may be one part. But though I'm more familiar with that situation than, say, a woman who is in love with her dead husband's brother as in my previous book, I'm still drawing from the same well of my experience. Both women were abused at home and fled to foreign lands, and in these foreign lands they are both uneasy, searching for their place. Those are the main feelings to which I must return over and over.

Then there is the difference of contemporary fantasy vs. medieval fantasy. In this book, I'm pretty much using the language that you see here, modern and conversational, and in medieval fantasy I use a bit more formal language. That could create distance that using my "real" voice can't.

Here's another thing, and this might seem weird, but difference might have something to do with the number of POV characters each book uses. While both books are in 3rd person, the medieval fantasy uses several points of view, and the contemporary uses only one. Switching POVs to get the reaction of the other major players in big emotional scenes seems to offer a way to complete the circle, so I don't feel as lost as the characters. I remember one specific example where I was writing an emotional scene, feeling more and more uncomfortable, until it was time to switch POVs, and once I switched it was quite a relief. Even though I know and understand what the non-POV characters are feeling in my WIP, I channel them and work through them.

Anyway, those are my thoughts today. What do you think?

{ 4 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. It's been really interesting to see your take, and the take of your readers, on this matter. I have a hard time with this, because I can't get "into" the emotions of the characters. I know they're feeling stuff and I try to capture it, but I don't ... FEEL it for them, I guess.

    So I'm interested to find out what they have to say here. Should be enlightening.

  2. So you think that being able to identify with the character causes you to feel their emotions more strongly than other characters?

    Would it help or hinder you to write about characters you don't identify with as much?

  3. Sorry Fal, I see my post published an unfinished draft. Maybe it's clearer now that I've fixed it.

    I think writers identify with all their characters in some way, but some more than others.

  4. You're right on target with using a switch in POV to deal with uncomfortable emotions. It might be interesting/useful some time to take a few moments, between switches, to center yourself. Then try staying with the first POV a bit longer. Scary, I know, but the writing might be even more powerful, and you'd see that you can survive staying in that place of discomfort.


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