Keiri LaPrade's picture
Keiri LaPrade from Virginia is reading Beowulf November 14, 2014 - 8:06am

Have you ever written a scene that you intended to be emotionally charged and got emotional yourself? How did you deal with it? 

I recently experienced this while writing one of the final scenes for my novel. When I tried to move past that moment I felt I couldn't write anymore and ended up having to step away for a few days.  So I'm just wondering if this is normal or if I've become over attached to my characters.

 

 

(Also.  HI, I'm new)

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami November 14, 2014 - 1:34pm

Well I written one scene in one of my self-published short stories that did. Though I'm not sure if it was for the right reasons, for it had been five years at that point since I wrote the first draft, and only just then a few months ago had rewrote it to my current writing standard (like how I would never desire smaller paragraphs now, unless it's absolutely needed.) It was an extension from the original draft, the aftermath of all the MC had gone through and his memories left behind. I already said to much though, although I'm not sure anyone would read it.

I specifically try to avoid in my work what I used to do in my science fiction, was to write scenes that were to dark where the scene primarily functioned as shock value rather than actual depth of the experience. Not that such events don't happen, but the stylization and context of drama and slasher are totally different. I used to be somewhere right in the middle.

Primarily more info than you were wanting. Sei La Ve.

MattF's picture
MattF from Tokyo is reading Borges' Collected Fictions November 14, 2014 - 3:53pm

Yes, and I think it's pretty normal. I've heard the phrase: If the writer didn't cry, the reader won't cry.

It's kind of a shock to suddenly feel broken up over something you're writing, but I think it's a good sign that you went somewhere real with it. You have to be willing to go there. 

 

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami November 14, 2014 - 4:31pm

One thing that's always puzzled me, is how much emotion is to much. I read some books I literally had to take break from, then go back to read with fresh eyes.

I'm having a hard time getting to that point these days. It's almost like I'm less risky with how I treat my characters, and giving them detailed back stories. (Which is only important in my opinion, to provide sufficient drive for present events. Not necessarily show.)

I think it's being less enthused with the sorts of MCs that would by necessity require the sorts of endings of stories that I used to write. Thus I have a hard time justifying completely crushing a protagonist that has a heart of gold.

Keiri LaPrade's picture
Keiri LaPrade from Virginia is reading Beowulf November 14, 2014 - 6:30pm

Do you think that, maybe, after writing certain types of situations and reading about them so much that we become desenitized to it? 

I do like the idea that if it doesn't move the writer it won't move the reader.  That does make sense.  I think actors report the same thing.

 

 

TheScrivener's picture
TheScrivener from Seattle is reading short stories November 15, 2014 - 5:39pm

Well that is the thing.  We all write about the same shit over and over, but how to not make it routine, cliche boring?  Love, sex, death, envy, pride...and now I am just listing out the seven deadly sins.  But I hope I made my point. The trick is to keep figuring out new ways to do it. I don't think you get desensitized to great writing, but certainly to poor and mediocre writing.  I know I have rolled my eyes when someone does a lame job of talking about suicide. But that subject matter still can really move me, when done well. It is the how, not the what. 

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami November 15, 2014 - 9:02pm

Talking about suicide is particularly hard to depict accurately without people wondering about you. And I think that's a lot of it as well. I already have to battle being labelled biographical, like some others I know of here as well.

And thus, finding that balance is hard.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated November 16, 2014 - 3:54am

I've only had this problem when I was writing memoirs.  I love to kick the puppy with fictional characters. 

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami November 16, 2014 - 1:49pm

Wow, you sound like me in a way. Though I don't write memoirs. In a traditional sense. So I can empathize.

Jake Leroy's picture
Jake Leroy from Kansas City is reading Jesus' Son, by Denis Johnson, and Hot Water Music, by Charles Bukowski November 16, 2014 - 2:25pm

In any of the good stories I've written I've found emotional truth. I've intentionally harnessed sense-memories. In one of my stories a lover dies. While I've never experienced that, I have experienced a loss that was deeply wounding, so I tapped into those feelings while I was writing a couple of crucial scenes. I wept on and off for two hours writing one scene at around 3 in the morning. I even played certain songs during that time to keep me there

How did I deal with it? I was grateful and I welcomed it. I can understand why you might have needed to step away for a few days. Going there can be cathartic, saddening or both. My stories deal heavily with relationships and the human condition, so I'm trying to tap into feelings that readers can relate to.

I know not everybody has to do this in their writing, I'm just telling you how it works for me.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami November 16, 2014 - 2:54pm

I've noticed it's harder these days than it used to be. Like I used to be able to have a MC live alone, because their father is dead having committed suicide on her birthday. Now I have a hard time just stealing the MCs apple without struggling these days. I have to much emotional investment.

Yet I'm in their head more, when I write in first person.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal November 16, 2014 - 8:07pm

it has to be something particularly relatable... but when i do, since you ask how we deal with it- i embrace it fully.

John Walker Lee's picture
John Walker Lee from South Africa is reading A prayer for Owen Meany November 17, 2014 - 12:04am

I try to get emotional before writing, listen to music, take a nap and dream out a scene, and then write to preserve that scene.

I write in panic, in case I forget something.

Josh Zancan's picture
Josh Zancan from Crofton, MD is reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck November 17, 2014 - 8:55am

The longer a writing session goes on, the more I feel the emotions I'm instilling into the characters.  Then I really flow.   It's a wonderful, surreal experience.  That's why even if I preplan a scene, it doesn't really get boring for me. The best though, if I'm writing a funny scene and I'm just rolling along, I'll write a line and just start laughing, and I have that moment of, "Oh, I'm so clever ha ha ha."  It doesn't always pan out when I go back read through it again though.  Sometimes I have to be like "well, it would work better worded this way."

I also find, sometimes, that if I'm really into the emotions of the characters, I sort of lose sight of what makes sense to a reader.  This isn't necessarily bad - it's good to instill the proper emotion and then work on the clarity later - but when I showed my first draft of my Arrest Us submission to my girlfriend (a story where I really got into the emotions of the character while writing), she just went "Mmmm," and I was like "Good mmm or bad mmm?"  And she said, "Mmm as in...I have no idea what's going on."  I pointed out to her that the reader was supposed to be in the dark on certain things.  Then she pointed out to me that she felt in the dark on everything.  So that's one downside of me really getting into the heart and head of the character.  Takes a little more brainwork later on (fortunately, sentence structure and some of the more technical aspects of writing are my strong suits, so I usually don't have to rewrite too much on that front, cleaning up sentences and whatnot).  But I do think I'm better off because of it, rather than remaining totally objective.  Some people can do that and still write with conviction, and I admire that, but it just doesn't work that way for me.

Keiri LaPrade's picture
Keiri LaPrade from Virginia is reading Beowulf November 18, 2014 - 9:22pm

Josh, I think that's really cool.  It seems so easy to get swept up in the emotions of the characters that it is easy to really loose direction.  But I always have a feeling that maybe being swept away is apart of it all.  It's like you let the characters lead the way a bit instead of telling them where to go.

Josh Zancan's picture
Josh Zancan from Crofton, MD is reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck November 19, 2014 - 4:20pm

It absolutely lets the characters lead the way. Sometimes they go where I don't expect and it's always for the better. Of course, I prefer it when they go where I had in mind. One, because it feels good, like I "Got it right" the first time, but also because if they take a new direction, I have to reevaluate the story. It's always worth it, but I get stuck sometimes. Hard for me to strip away my own preconceptions of what the story "should" be.

Matt Oddfield's picture
Matt Oddfield from nowhere in particular is reading Embassytown November 22, 2014 - 7:42am

I don't really get emotional, no. I remember writing a smokin' hot sex scene and thinking: "I'm feeling absolutely nothing right now. Wow." Not that I don't sympathise with characters--it's kind of like having another person share a brain with you. His/her sufferings are there, but they don't concern you, if you know what I mean.

But, truth be told, writing for a long time does have a weird effect on me, especially in the morning. I'll start sweating profusely and my body temperature surges up. I usually finish my sessions shirtless, then close my laptop, realise it's winter, swear a lot and put on all the jumpers in the house.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami November 22, 2014 - 12:41pm

I came very close to with the ending of my current novella. Which is actually an unusual refreshing feeling.

Christina Daumer's picture
Christina Daumer from Colorado, USA is reading Books to my son February 5, 2015 - 6:27am

Keiri, that sound like a wonderful problem to have!

I have this unfortunate problem of letting my imaginination go without my fingers on the keyboard... Sure, the character takes the story, and the scene is full, I get emotional, but then I look up and realize it was all in my head. Darn. I wasn't typing. Now I have to retrace it all by memory and it is never the same.

 

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated February 5, 2015 - 6:53am

I mostly hate all my characters, so this all seems crazy to me.

lizlazzara's picture
lizlazzara from Boston, MA is reading The Kills, To Show and To Tell, The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching, Understanding Schizophrenia. December 9, 2015 - 11:55am

Oh, absolutely. There have been pieces I've written that I've cried the whole way through. I imagine that there will be more tears in my future, as well. I think that if you're trying to write anything emotionally charged, especially if the emotion is sadness, grief, loss, heartbreak, etc., it's almost best to throw the entirety of your emotional energy into it. At worst, you have to pull back some with revision, but at best, you've got something absolutely raw and captivating.

C.A.S's picture
C.A.S December 9, 2015 - 4:14pm

Actuall, I m not a writer.I m a scince student who always writes informal english but when I get emotionally disturbed  I use to write all whats in my mind and burn that paper.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami December 9, 2015 - 8:49pm

Oh the specific chapter I'm thinking of is Father Out Of Time. It was originally a seperate short story, but it soon became apparent George was Richard/Nadine's father in the early part of the 21st century.

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer December 11, 2015 - 10:11am

I actually get vacant and buzzy. I'm not the characters so much as an impartial, all-seeing witness. It feels like my head is full of houseflies, swarming around bumping in to each other.

Lesley J Vos's picture
Lesley J Vos from Chicago is reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins December 28, 2015 - 3:46am

Only when someone disturbs me from the process. 

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this December 28, 2015 - 11:08am

In each of my two novels, there are parts where I started crying as I was writing it--that's when I know I hit my mark. 

tesswritestoo's picture
tesswritestoo from Nashville, TN is reading Midnight's Children December 28, 2015 - 12:57pm

Writing is emotional and therapeutic for me. I'm coming from a real place with my characters -  there is a piece of me in each of them. It's hard for me to delve so deeply into them and not come out a bit more roughed up. It helps though - it's a good way for me to work through the stories in my mind and come to reality a bit more grounded.