In my first novel there were lots of scenes were emotional/moving but mainly father/son scenes, whenever things fell apart. This was fine because I was going from my feelings from experience of building this character. We’ve spent years together, and writing his emotional scenes was easy. But I’ve hit a brick wall.
In my new piece, ‘Bruised’ I have a scene where Evelyn’s hamster dies and Hunter has to deal with it (but he has no idea). Having had many pets die (three cats, a hamster and a rat – also my sister’s rats) I feel I can write this effectively from Evelyn’s part – but this also brings something difficult for me.
My sister recently got married, great right? Not so great that I’m animal sitting and trying to make one of her rats, Eli, die peacefully and trying to feed him. Seeing him in the fragile state upsets me, especially when he won’t eat and he looks very sick. I will use these emotions to drive these scenes, but I wonder a few things about emotional writing.
- Is it always best to write these from personal experience? Is it possible to pour too much into these scenes? Reliving these events can provide great writing but can also make the piece seem too emotionally heavy.
- Do readers mind? Would it be good if I could move a reader over a hamster’s death? Would a reader want to read on? Obviously it’s in Evelyn’s point of view and this hamster is her world, and in Hunter’s POV it’s just a hamster.
- How do writers prepare themselves for emotional writing? Is it good if an author is moved by their own work? Often I’ve written emotional scenes back that I’ve written and had a sob (partially because of the themes, for example a dying patient when Parker holds his hand through his final breaths) and other times when Joshua is dealing with heartbreak and losing his mother, again.)
- If you move yourself, as the writer, would you be willing to rip it apart for an audience to be moved? Ultimately you can’t expect a reader to be moved if you aren’t moved yourself. Is there a key formula to writing these scenes?
I tend to write from experience, and this has eased me into the subject, but I am curious if other authors can share any techniques they use for their writing.