This week’s guest poster is the lovely Courtney N C Stone who discusses the concept of writing your emotions. Enjoy!
About five months ago, my Grandad died. It was my first ‘big’ death; at the age of 25, I am very lucky to have grown up with a huge, relatively healthy family. It hit me hard, and has been inspiration for a lot of emotions I’ve had since.
In the weeks following my Grandad’s death, I noticed a lot of morbid feelings towards the characters in my WIP. The plot was taking a darker turn, more deaths were in the pipeline, and I was moving away from my original plan.
Despite the dramatic events of the book, I had always planned for a positive ending, yet now there are twists and heartbreaks that will make the ending bittersweet.
When I realised I was doing this, I put down my WIP for a week and really thought about it. Was writing my emotions the best thing for my book?
Writing what you know
The phrase ‘write what you know’ gets bandied about a lot in the writing world, and to be fair, I agree.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t write a sci-fi YA novel when you’re more of a steamy rom-com kind of person, but your writing will be more accurate and more believable if you are confident with writing it.
The same goes for emotions. It will be a lot harder to write pain, to write rage, to write grief if you’ve never felt them. I’m not saying you can’t, and people certainly do, but if you have the emotions there, channelling them into your writing could create something powerful.
I planned out the death of a character but have been avoiding writing it because I know that it will be emotional for me to do. Hopefully, that means it will be emotional for my readers too.
Do you need to write chronologically?
Short answer, no. This is something I have struggled with, but as I become more confident with my writing, I have written short scenes and parts of chapters that come later on in the book because my emotions have inspired me into writing with more feeling.
It dragged me out of my comfort zone, but not only have I been able to write my emotions effectively, I know exactly where my current chapter needs to go.
Don’t be afraid to step outside the box and write more emotionally intense things while your feelings are on the surface; who knows when that motivation will appear again?
Staying on track
Thomas Edison once said, “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” This has been adapted by many an author and is 100% true for writing.
Occasionally, you will be motivated, inspired, excited and want to write pages and pages. However, a lot of the time, you will really need to force yourself to keep going, especially when you’re going through some emotional upheaval. Unfortunately, there will be times when you just can’t do it.
Don’t be afraid to take a bit of time for yourself to recharge. If you can’t just put your WIP away, try doodling, mind-mapping, note-taking, anything that will get the ideas out.
Writing may be 99% perspiration, but you know your own mind; if you know you’ll end up deleting what you’ve done or editing it so heavily it wasn’t worth writing in the first place, you’re better off taking some time to get yourself back on track.
Killing people off
As I said before, I have been feeling morbid about the characters in my book. A few of them have got dark and desperate times ahead. However, when I took the time away from my WIP and came back to it, I realised that killing everyone off wasn’t necessary or helpful to the plot.
Before writing in a death, think about how it will affect the rest of the story. Will it drive other characters forward? Will it stop other key events from happening? Only kill someone off if it really feels right and will have an impact. Killing people for the sake of killing them will just result in deaths that aren’t quite believable.
So can writing your emotions be good for your book? Absolutely. Emotions make the writing real, and if you can channel your emotions into your WIP, then that’s a productive way of dealing with your feelings.
Just remember to keep your eye on the big picture, and don’t let your emotions take you off on a tangent (unless it’s an amazing tangent filled with ideas and promise).
About the author
Courtney N C Stone is a twenty-something primary school teacher living in Leeds. When she’s not writing, she is walking her dog, playing the ukulele, or binge-watching a show on Netflix.
Courtney’s current WIP is a middle-grade fantasy book about two teens who accidentally discover a portal to another world in their grandfather’s basement.
Through the portal, they find mythics, every mythical creature imaginable, trapped by an evil spell. With the help of their new centaur friend, the teens go on a journey to free the mythics, discovering terrible secrets and heartbreak along the way.
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Big thanks to Courtney for being this week’s guest poster and sharing her thoughts on writing your emotions. Please make sure you check out her social media sites and if you have any questions or comments for her, please drop them in the section below.
I will be back on Friday with a new post. Sorry for the lack of one this Monday, I was writing and completely missed forgot! :p Not a bad reason to forget.