TT's Rules of Writing #9 (Writing Tip #80)

Don't just write it. Feel it.

I know. That sounds a bit touchy feely. A bit emotive. But that's how I go about every writing project I get involved with.

Perhaps this is why I feel so worn out and beat up at the end of the day.

I've spent a decade writing semi-autobiographical stories. Some might see this as an exercise in vanity, but it's really not. I write about characters similar to me because I get them. I can put on their shoes and take a journey with them. I can feel what they're feeling.

Never once--never--have I written a story on auto-pilot. A story just for a contract, a job just for the cash. Granted--cash is nice these days. But every story I've written has meant something to me. Every story has forced me to feel exactly what those characters are feeling.

Teen love--sure. That's easy to imagine. But what about the loss a mother of an MIA soldier might feel? What about a teenager who has nothing? What about a man who is told he's going to die? What about someone who watched the love of his life tragically die in front of his eyes?

That was my 2010 in a nutshell. Heart-warming tales, huh? And with every character, I was walking and running and sitting beside them throughout the heartbreak and the drama. I forced myself to try and feel exactly what they felt. That's just my process.

Is it easy to snap out of it at the end of the day? Not exactly. Thank God I live with a patient wife. She doesn't get what I do, but then again she puts up with the sometimes weary and many times ornery person who comes home from work.

Emotions are strange things. I don't know where they come from or how to reallly truly manage them. All I know is that writing fiction is about the business of emotion. Feel what your characters are feeling. Feel for what your characters are dealing with, regardless of whether they're a hero or a villain.

Don't just write scene after scene, but feel each scene too.

It's exhausting. And yes, there are times when you won't be feeling it.

I think in the long run, the reader will feel the emotions too.

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