Friday, September 9, 2011

Passion for the Work

I noted the comments on the last post I wrote on passion in writing. Today I thought I'd elaborate.
I've been reading Dwight Swain's "Techniques of the Selling Writer" and I find myself nodding in agreement at nearly every sentence. He says, "Feeling is the place every story starts."
I agree wholeheartedly. If we don't feel for the character, or with them, we can easily lose interest in what they are doing, or what someone is doing to them. We must care deeply about those characters - enough to live life vicariously through them.
It would be no life at all to not have feelings. I read for a reawakening of feelings: tears and sorrow at tragedy; smiles at witty dialogue; out-loud laughter at the antics of the hero and heroine. I read to relish the hair rising on the back of my neck in terror at the heroine's peril, safe and secure it's not happening physically to me, but enjoying the thrill in absentia.
I love to read great description that puts me exactly in the middle of the scene - the sounds, smells, taste, and feelings. As I write, I must know not only what my heroine is experiencing physically, but what she's thinking, and why she's doing what she's doing.
As a writer, I must remember to write vividly, using sensory perception to fill the requirements of my readers which are my own requirements when I read.
I want to experience the emotions of my heroine - so I expect her crises to be presented in a logical manner, hopefully a chronological one, that I can follow without re-reading to make sure I know what's going on.
What happened to wrench her from her everyday life? How does she react to the change in her existence? What is she going to do about her new situation? How will she face these new challenges?
As a reader, I'm anxious to live - to feel - each of these emotions with her, anxious to identify with her as she steps into new, unknown territory, physically and emotionally. And I need to walk every step of the way with her to the satisfying, logical conclusion of the story.
I don't want to read long, agonizing paragraphs of description or introspection that don't move the story forward. They don't usually convey feeling. And after all, isn't that what we're reading for is feeling, maybe even more than for entertainment and education?
As a writer, if I don't fulfill these needs of my readers, if I don't evoke in them the feelings and emotions they want to experience, I've let them down in the worst way possible. As a reader, I'll never pick up another book by that author if he or she lets me down in those areas.
Write so the passion you feel for your character shines through your prose. Write the kind of story you love to read and give your readers the kind of story that rouses passion, sympathy, anger, disgust, happiness, peace - feelings that will stay with them long after they put the book down.
You can be sure they'll come back for more.

1 comment:

Jennie said...

Swain's book is one of my favorites on writing.