Mark Terry

Monday, April 27, 2009

What's The Point?

April 27, 2009
I think I'm a better than average writer at transferring information. Yes, "transferring" is the word. I'm transferring information from one area and writing about it in another. I'm clear, I'm accurate, I'm good at it.

But is that the point of fiction?

Partly.

But I think a bigger point of fiction is transferring emotion. And that's a pretty difficult task. I'm not bad about transferring the adrenaline rush, the sense of urgency, possibly even panic and fear.

Other emotions, I'm not so sure.

So my goal in fiction is to work on depth, on digging deeper into my character and my story, to not just push the character from A to B to C, etc.--which I'm pretty good at--but to get the reader to feel what he's feeling, not just see, hear and taste what he's experiencing.

And how do I do that without slowing down the damned pace? How do I do that without paragraphs and pages of internal monologue that just gets in the way of the other things I do well?

No easy task.

Thoughts?

Cheers,
Mark Terry

8 Comments:

Blogger Adam Coronado said...

In my opinion, conveying the human condition often amounts to understanding what people are in touch with. I recently wrote a story about father/son relationships and it was well received by readers who had experienced these issues firsthand or who could relate some other way.

In general, I find that there are problems in society that need to be brought to readers' attention. I try to write about those things without trivializing them, using characters that refrain from being stereo-/archetypes.

6:57 AM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

I believe you are correct that mostly people want emotion from their fiction. But I tend to read more for intellectual stimulation. Obviously classic sf which I grew up on and classic mysteries have large intellectual components and are often criticized for lack of character. But even plenty of great books, although they may have emotion, are pretty heavy with philosophical musings which fascinate me. No doubt my own writing suffers from this preference!

8:21 AM  
Anonymous Christine said...

Maybe readers want emotion, but not if it's boring. And I think we have to show the emotion rather than tell it. Rather than say someone loves a teddy bear, or gets comfort from it, the hug that twists the teddy bear's neck out of shape and the tears falling on the ear would probably show it better. It also happens with action, which you might be better at writing.

12:09 PM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

For me, evoking emotion is a dance between me and the reader more than between me and the story or me and the main character.

I have to put myself in my reader's shoes instead of my character's shoes. I have to understand what my reader wants, what my reader dreams of, what my reader needs reassurance about and what my reader needs to escape from.

Then it's making the MC relate to the reader, usually in a way that makes the reader feel understood, less alone. Not the "only one."

Then I try to set the scene and provide the ingredients that will evoke the emotion in the reader. I crawl in the reader's skin as I write, rather than in my character's skin. Or, I crawl through my character's skin into my reader's skin. (LOL, okay, now I just sound crazy!)

And what I don't say and what I don't write are the most evocative.

I'm not much for writing books, past a certain point, but Creating Character Emotions (the one by Hood) is excellent. Probably the top craft book I've read.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Spy
I actually understood that. Interesting perspective.

4:47 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Christine,
Boring emotion? Well, yeah, I agree with you about the show don't tell. But why do so many so-called literary or mainstream novels have pages of internal monologue about emotion?

4:48 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Eric,
Well, I don't think I necessary read novels for emotion either.

4:48 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Adam,
I wonder, though, about focusing too much on a message. Different likes, though, and I suppose it depends on whether your focus is entertainment.

4:49 AM  

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