It’s seems such an obvious statement, but are you drawing upon the vast, deep and sacred archive of your own emotions to truly establish feeling and reality in your works? It’s one thing to imagine what it must be like to experience something, it’s entirely another to really put yourself out there and feel it, to really experience it, and then relate that back to others so that they might live through you.
For example, you’re writing the death of a character, a beloved character, one who’s had an impact on the story and those around them… How do you convey just how tragic their passing is? For starters, you don’t just open a thesaurus and use the prettiest, most poetic words you can find. To make something unreal, feel real, you have to invest emotion. Yours. Draw upon on your life experiences. Has someone you loved passed? A family member, friend or colleague? It may hurt, but in my experience, the most powerful words are those summoned by a heart that can feel what it’s telling you has some truth to it.
Yes, none of us have lost a dragon, or unicorn, but if your character is bonded to these majestic creatures, or if they are their steadfast mount or companion, then it’s not too much of a stretch to look within and share how that would feel, if it could be real. You don’t have a dragon or unicorn, but perhaps you’ve lost a dog, a horse, a beautiful cat? We are creatures of passion and emotion. Many of us become easily connected to others, be they human or animal. Even inanimate things can be sacred to us, and hold deep meaning or are attached to important memories.
I’ve always heard that it’s at an artist’s lowest point, that he creates his best works. And I can honestly see truth in that statement. I’ve written some of my most heart wrenching and beautiful prose when I’ve been hurting, truly, in reality. Rather than shut down, or try to switch off, I’ve channeled those emotions, those feelings into my words, into my stories and into my characters. I’ve literally breathed a part of my life and self into my craft.
For me, I’ve always found it pretty easy to tell complacently written fiction from fiction that has a true depth of emotion. It’s not hard to write a story. Truly, anyone can do it. Anyone. But to write a good story? A story that touches the heart and mind, and leaves you thinking on it long after? That is the art, the craft. And that takes a certain level of honesty and openness that believe it or not, not too many writers are willing to give.
Don’t hold back. Let your life, your experiences and your emotions hone your art. Let them speak through you, to your reader. Let them in! Allow them to feel as you do. You can do it, but you have to be real with yourself and you have to acknowledge your readers want what you have to share. A story about an epic magical ring, some halflings, a dark lord, a princess and a king is one thing… It sounds interesting, the concepts draw you in. But it’s not until you know the reasons, the motivations and the hearts behind the story, that you find yourself inexplicably drawn in and unable, and unwanting to let their journey go, long after you’ve closed that book.
Reach deep and let the words flow from within!
Til next time,