Thursday, March 24, 2005

I second that emotion !

Kate Allan, in her blog for 24/03/05, said that it came as a surprise to some people in her writers' circle that they could use emotion in their writing. However, I initially had a similar re-action to the writers' circle, until I saw Kate's example and understood what she meant. It's really about working at channelling emotions into writing.

When I ran a workshop on historical fiction, I deliberately chose an exercise where people focused on an artefact and imagined who might have used it or how it might have been used, or even feel (one chap did a really super piece on some medical pliers!) In focusing on an object, they did not have to overtly bring their own emotions into the exercise. From my own experience of writing conferences, I knew that some people may well not want to expose themselves very much, especially if they're beginners. In the end, there were various approaches, which were evident - the pliers man was clever in giving the pliers their own character, a woman writing about a necklace told her tale from the view of a man who had bought the necklace knowing it outshone the woman, another observed her artefact minutely, almost archaeologically. All were interesting in the their own right, and they were able to chose whether they put emotion in or not.

Some people are uncomfortable with exposing their emotions in a very public forum, like a writers' group. For example, my writers' group are doing a 'Holiday Memories' competition, and I'm not entering it! The subject instantly brings up memories of painful family holidays where my parents bickered all round Wiltshire and Dorset. And I also remember a far more recent holiday where I fell from a horse and even three years later, I am still suffering the effects physically and emotionally. Not surprisingly, I'm not wanting to go there again! I can remember other, quieter holidays, but not so intensely.

However, I am aware that I allow emotions to come out in my writing - whether unintentionally (by my choice of subject matter, by the way certain characters behave) or deliberately; for a scene in the 6th century story, I remembered what I feel like when I think I'm being ignored but don't understand what's going on, and let a character act on it - not surprisingly, she got into a very bad fight!

And anyway, regarding Holiday Memories, my 5th-6th century guys don't get holidays per se, so I'll use that excuse to duck out of the writers' group competition!!!


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