Nearly a year ago I sat down to watch an episode of Being Human the UK version. I had watched all the previous series and episodes. I fell in love with my favourite vampire, John Mitchell, who was one of the central characters. In this particular episode Mitchell is compassionately staked by his best friend. It was totally unexpected and it left me feeling some strong emotions for at least three days after. To me that was some powerful writing on the part of the show’s creators. It is what I aspire to do with the novels that I write.
Currently, I am working on my newest novel and am glad to report I am about 50k words into it. It is called Tale of a Handmaiden (working title) which is inspired by a flash fiction story that I wrote called For the Love of the Handmaiden. Quite a few readers of my blog commented that they thought that piece could be bigger. Now nine months later I have become very familiar with the handmaiden and her story has started to unfold into a novel. I think perhaps there may be one more novel that falls more in line with the flash piece once this first novel is done.
Writing the handmaiden’s story is proving to be an emotional roller coaster for me. Even my husband has noticed this and commented on it. The other day for example I was writing a section where a particularly charming love interest was interacting with the handmaiden and my husband began to laugh. I asked him why he was laughing and he said that it was because of the looks on my face. Apparently I was actually grinning, grimacing and at one point wrinkling my nose while I was writing. Then last night I was writing a particularly difficult passage and I began to cry. I felt it so strongly as if it were a relative of mine that were experiencing the difficulty and I wanted to hug them. Writing this particular scene bothered me so much that I actually cut the 3,000+ words from the novel and put them into their own saved document. I decided to begin to rewrite the passage again tonight. I figure if it still happens the way I wrote it yesterday (which was not how I outlined it) then it will stay in the novel that way.
Whenever I sit down and watch what I consider to be a really good television programme or film, it is because while watching it I can relate to the characters and what they are feeling. It is the same with other forms of art. Nothing can bring back a memory of a certain time, person or place in my life like a certain piece of music can. Reading a good story is the same for me. I want to feel it through emotion as I read it. If an author can draw me in that way, then I become more connected to the book. When that happens then there is a good chance that I will carry on reading it all the way through to see what happens next.
How do we as writers make a future reader connect more emotionally with our work? We know we need to draw them in through allowing them to feel the story and relate it to their own personal past emotional experiences. We know they want to laugh, cry, fall in love or get goosebumps as they read. So we can try our best to give them quality “show me, don’t tell me” writing that pays attention to the emotional cues. But ultimately if we do not also feel the emotions as we are writing then we run the risk that the reader won’t either.
How about you? Does your own writing make you laugh, cry or sleep with a night light? Do you think your readers will also pick up on these emotional infusions in your writing?