Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Emotion in our Writing

Yesterday a wonderful author and beautiful woman passed away. I did not know her, have not read her stories, and yet when I heard I felt grief.
Not for her. She's in heaven, dancing on streets of gold, as her husband wrote. I feel for her family and actually cried for them.
When my husband heard me blubbering, I felt embarrassed and reined it in. But sorrow shared is healthy. Many cultures encourage the verbal expression of grief. Remember Dancing With Wolves? When the heroine's husband died, she cut herself.
Of course, I'm not recommending that. I'm just saying that grief should be expressed. Which leads me to my topic.
Sometimes new writers, including myself, think we have to spell every emotion out. But while in real life deep expression is good, in writing it can actually weaken the readers' empathy for the character.
While reading Sushi For One by Camy Tang, the reader realizes something horrible happened to Lex, the heroine. The author never spells it out or goes into deep "telling" mode. Instead, Lex's actions and reactions create this sadness in the reader (me, to be exact). Tang did a great job and I'm willing to bet in other novels where traumatic things happen, emotions are not always described.
Emotion should be in our writing. But we never want to tell the reader how to feel. Tricky stuff. Tom Morrissey did an excellent fiction class and this was one of the things he mentioned.

But the real reason I'm writing today is because of Kristy Dykes. Like I said, I never knew her, but her blog touched me. Her husband's posts moved me.

She is a lovely woman who will be missed by many people.

My prayers are with her family.

2 comments:

tina gray said...

Such a moving tribute, Jessica. And you led into a great blog with it. Sometimes it's hard to know when your writing has moved from emotional to melodramatic. That's something I wrestle with as a writer, and it's something I hope one day to get the hang of enough that I don't even have to think about it after a while. I hope it will start to just come naturally.

My deepest sympathies to Kristy's family.

Oh, and I read your post about "Thirteenth Tale". It's so funny how people see things different. ;-) I personally got the feeling that she and the doctor did get together in the end. The author alluded to that though she never outright said it. But it was enough for me to spin a little scene in my own mind about them getting married and her living with him and the cat.

I guess I'm like you. That romance has to be there or I'm going to make it up myself. snort

Camy Tang said...

I bawled when I heard about Kristy, even though I didn't know her personally, just because of the kind of positive person she was on the email loops we belonged to.

I'm glad you liked how I conveyed Lex's emotion in Sushi for One!
Camy