Friday, December 12, 2008

Getting Scared While You Write...

I believe that each writer has their own way of tapping into their creative mind. For some people, words flow freely when they sit down to write and they can put their characters, and themselves, through the twists and turns of their story to the happily ever after with ease.

I love those times, although I must admit that they don't always come when I want them to. What I've found though, is that all too often it's easy to settle back and allow myself to just get comfortable. I could be writing, aimlessly wandering through a scene and the scene might be good. But is it great? Can it be better?

Nine out of tens times when a scene doesn't excite me, it's because I'm resting too much on my comfort zone. As as I write my stories I'm getting to know my characters. I'm getting to like them and even love them. So it's hard to be nasty to them and make them work for their happy ending. It's hard to allow bad things to happen to them. But as writers we have to. We have to allow our characters to get scared, to feel, to suffer and in turn WE have to get scared while we're writing. If we don't, the words will just be "okay".

Now, as a writer, if "okay" is all you're striving for, that's fine. For me, I want my readers to come back to me and tell me they couldn't put the book down. I want them to be as involved in the story as my characters. I want them to get scared, to feel, to suffer along with the hero and heroine. That turns an okay story into a great story.

For me to achieve that, I need to get scared too. Sometime that involves me taking my characters down a path that is foreign to me. When I wrote The More I See, a story about a blind Cutting Horse Trainer, I had to feel what it was like to suddenly lose something precious. It wasn't just the heroes eyesight that he was mourning, but the job that he loved that he thought he could no longer do. I couldn't put myself in his shoes, but I could dig as deep as I could and explore what would affect me just as profoundly. How would that make me feel?

Sometimes getting scared means feeling your character's pain. Sometimes it means digging deep into yourself to feel your own pain and then transferring that pain onto the page. I imagine it is much like an actor who is rehearsing for a difficult scene. Emotion needs to come from somewhere. To make a good story great, a writer needs to dig deep and allow him or herself to get scared.

Until next time, many blessings, Lisa Mondello


Anonymous said...

Great post!
Now, I don't write suspense...but in my writing, I gauge it by goosebumps or feeling near tears.

The more emotion the better as far as I'm concerned. That's what I love about reading. How close do I feel to the I want to try and do that in my writing as well.

Thanks for the post. Have a great Friday!

EllenToo said...

Your post reminded me of something I had not thought about for a long time. When I was a teenager I was a girl scout and we were doing community service at the school for the blind. One day we were all blind folded for an hour and had to see how we could get along if blind. I can remember being totally helpless and scared. Sure made a difference in how I acted toward those with physical handicaps.

RoosMom said...

Thanks for the great reminder! Our characters and the feelings they embrace need to be palpable. With suspense, we need to be holding our breath right along with them.

As a reader, I want to be so enthralled in the characters world that I don't want to put the book down!

Blessings! Kelly

Debby Giusti said...

Great post, Lisa! And so true!
Congrats on your RT nomination!

Mary said...

Real emotions seem to make words come alive and breathe. Great post!