I’m on a Sweet Salt Air roll, so this blog won’t be long. But I’m asked this question often. Do I feel what I write? If my characters are shocked, do I feel the shock? If they’re heartsick, do I cry? And yes – someone recently asked this in a blog comment – if they’re aroused, am I?
You wouldn’t ask any of it if you’d seen me this week. I’ve been writing three consecutive scenes in Sweet Salt Air, each pivotal to the plot, each filled with high emotion, and I’ve been wringing my hands, pacing the floor, writing with my heart in my mouth, waking at night with my characters’ worries. We’re talking betrayal, heartache, and fear. You may read it in passing, but I live with it.
Okay. Maybe the Patriots’ loss got me started in a state.
But what my characters lived through this week really did take my mind off that. Writing emotion is a matter of total immersion. I haven’t been able to do any other reading this week (not that I wanted to read the sports pages anyway.)
Does the writing flow faster during these scenes? Yes and no. The words pour out and fill the page – but I change them more. Have you ever had an argument with someone and wanted to take back what you said or say it in a different way? In an ideal world, you can. Writing is that world. I can fine-tune those emotional scenes until they’re just right.
So I write in a burst, stop and feel, edit in a burst, stop, feel, and write more. I take a thirty-minute car ride, feel what’s coming next, and speak dialogue into my microrecorder. If a character puts a hand on her chest because her heart is beating that hard, my hand is on my own chest. If her throat is tight, mine is too. And hey, if the guy in a love scene doesn’t turn me on, I can’t write the scene.
So the short, sweet, intimate answer? I feel everything.
What about you? Do you feel those emotions? Does your heart pound? Does your jaw drop? Do you put your hand on the top of your head in utter disbelief, as Charlotte Evans just did?