1. xxtake_controlxx
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    xxtake_controlxx Member

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    A Question

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by xxtake_controlxx, Apr 21, 2009.

    I was trying to start a new short piece to write, but everything I think of is of the same type of emotion. Kind of. Everything I think of at least borders on being dark and slightly depressing.

    Now, I'm not a dark, depressing person. Actually, many people who know me find me quite bubbly. But I'm always drawn to the darker stories both when I write them and when I read them. I also have a tendency to write about things that I have never experienced.

    So, I guess my question is:

    Do you generally write about emotions or experiences that have experienced, or those that you haven't?

    Now, I know that what you write may not be exactly an experience that you have been through, or an experience that anyone can go through. But that doesn't mean there isn't something about it that is familiar. That's not really the point though.

    I guess the point is - if it wasn't clear enough the first time - do you have a tendency to stick to emotions, thoughts, and/or experiences that you know, or those that you don't?
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I usually write about emotions and experiences I am familiar with. I have tried on many occasions to write about emotions/experiences I'm not familiar with, but the characters seem artificial and sometimes not very believable. That being said, it is still possible to write about something you aren't familiar with. I just find it easier to stick to what I know.
     
  3. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I find that what I write depends a lot on what I read...maybe that's due to me being relatively young and therefore not having developed my own concrete style, but if I'm reading something funny, my writing tends to get funny, if I'm reading something dark, my writing gets dark. So if you wanna mix up your writing, read something different and see what you can take from that...obviously you shouldn't be writing pastiches, just y'know, look at how they phrase things, what they write specifically about, how they describe it...

    On the other hand, if you don't wanna go get something new to read right now, just start by practising describing something random, just like a picture of something, and experiment with altering the mood with your language and phrasing...its remarkable how many ways you can interpret the same concept simply by varying language.
     
  4. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    So to answer your question, which I didn't really, I tend to write about things happening around me but not necesarily what I'm going through. After all, what fun is creative writing if you don't have to create anything.
     
  5. Nervous1st
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    Nervous1st Senior Member

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    Hi there,

    I am often drawn to darker stories, not fantasy or sci-fi but real life experiences. For me, reading about the experiences of others, helps me to understand my own and more often than not helps me to appreciate what I have.

    I am writing a story which is, in some ways dark and depressing and is something that I’ve never experienced.

    My novel is about a young woman recovering from years of child abuse. I have never experienced this but it is based very loosely on the story of my best friend and is ultimately a tribute to her life.

    In answer to your question, I prefer to write about things which I have never experienced. In the months I have been writing this novel, I have learned so much. I have studied in detail, the long term effects of child abuse and trauma, guides for councilors and literally hundreds of real life stories.

    Whatever happens to my story now, it doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t change this experience for anything. It has opened up a whole new world for me, more than any fantasy could ever do and one which has changed me forever.

    Good luck, I look forward to reading your work in the review room.
     
  6. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    It depends. When it comes to fiction, what I write about tends to be very far removed from the things I've actually experienced. When it comes to poetry, it's all very personal and very close to home--it's where I express my feelings. I don't write about the same kind of things in fiction because, for me, the childhood I had isn't something I think about often and I think in a way I'm a bit scared to sit down and confront that part of my life. I have my own reasons for that, but being unwilling to face my past (at least unwilling for now) makes it hard for me to want to write about anything similar in my fiction. Poetry is easier, because it's more subtle and less revealing. It's safer, I guess. Anyway, that's my answer to this question.

    ~Lynn
     
  7. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think very difficult not to let your own experiences and emotions influence what you write, even if they are not directly related. I put my own expierences into my books because I find it very rare to find a character that accurately portrays social phobia the way I experience it, as well as others I know. Heck, the most accurate portrayal I've ever seen was from Star Trek. Stories about shy kids usually treat the shyness as a phase people just get over. That can be true, but not always. The Star Trek character showed it for what it really is, a real phobia that is probably one of the most debilitating because you're afraid of people and it's one of the few things people fear that they cannot escape unless they lock themselves in their house.
     
  8. fantasy girl
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    fantasy girl Contributing Member

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    i usually write about either experiences i am personally familiar with or that someone close to me has experienced.
     
  9. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    I think it's easier to write about experiences that you have not had, but unknown emotions are a little more challenging.
     
  10. xxtake_controlxx
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    xxtake_controlxx Member

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    I think that's really what I was initially trying to articulate (and failing at). I completely understand, for example, Rei's shyness example. I know, trait-wise, my characters have a tendency to resemble some of my characteristics, but never all of them together.

    But, what Dcoin said - which I quoted above - is I think really what I was getting at. And I completely agree. I find that I gravitate towards experiences that I have not had, and yes, the emotions are a bit more challenging, but at the same time, I think it gives me more freedom. I find that if I write about an experience I have had, I feel confined to the emotions I felt at the time. But if it's something I have never experienced, I have a wider range of emotions to choose from. And, since not everybody reacts to situations in the same way, being able to comfortably choose from a wider array of emotions and responses makes it easier to write.

    I don't know. I guess I was just musing and wondering if I was crazy for writing more about what I don't know than what I do. Then again, I'm not sure if my characters are even believable in those situations. *shrugs*
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Writing about emotional experiences that are foreign to you is risky.

    I think the emorions themselves, we re nearly all familiar with. We all have experienced exuberant joy, crushing depression, red hot rage, etc. But the situations that bring about strong emotions - that's where we differ.

    We generally have a pretty fixed notion of how we will react in a given situation. But when that situation actually happens to you, our reaction can take us by suprise as much or even more than the event itself.

    That's why it's risky to write about. If you haven't actually been through that situation, the emotions you describe may not resonate with a reader who HAS been there.

    Certainly, everyone who has experienced the situation will have his or her own individual reaction. But the conflicted nature of the emotions are what may not come through convincingly.

    The broader your emotional experience, the more likely you will be able to pull off a reaction to an unknown situation. Stilll, the risk remains.

    So all told, the more closely the emotions echo a reaction you have actually experienced, the firmer the ground you are on as a writer. But you will have to stretc yourself from time to time anyway, because no one experiences everything.
     
  12. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I always write about emotions I have felt myself, even if the setting and theme is totally diffrent, the emotion is something I always expriance first on some level or another.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i have never limited myself in writing... as i've been reading nearly any kind of book i could get my hands on, since i first learned to read and as i've been a people-watcher and curious about all in the world, all my life, i never had to...

    and, since i've also experienced every emotion there is, it's not an issue for me...
     
  14. perfectionist
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    It is easiest sometimes to write things that are safe - things that don't hurt you or your readers. Perhaps you could call this the "familiar mundane".
    However, often, I find that this writing is unsatisfying. Sometimes a very skilled author can make the most familiar things seem new and alien, but I think that is probably an advanced skill.

    It is interesting to attempt to write about things that you, or indeed no other person, may have experienced - I am a big fan of SF, reading and writing, and so this is a big part of what motivates me in writing. I'd call this the "unfamiliar".
    The example that has just popped into my head is of a normal person in some alternate world with prevailing pantheist beliefs, agonising over disinfecting some item or other and thereby killing millions of innocent bacteria.
    Hmm... I may do something with that... or not.

    And then, finally, I think some of the best work of many authors is based on personal experience. Not necessarily a section of autobiographical events, but an expression of something deeply meaningful to them, such as a description of the pain of the loss of a loved one; desperation over a personal dilemma; sociophobia; the dizziness of first love; etc. etc.

    Hm. So anyway, my feeling on all this is that if you write about things that are not uniquely personal and soulful to you, then in addition to it being a worthy pursuit in and of itself, it will serve as good writing practice for when you dig out the deeply moving emotions and bare your soul...

    Perhaps i'm not entirely sure what I mean after all.
     
  15. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Another thing to consider is that, from a certain point of view, writers do very much the same thing actors do. Look at all the diverse parts many actors play, and you always believe the good ones. Watch a good war movie and it's hard to believe that these actors didn't have expierence in war. If we haven't experienced it, we can learn enough from people who have, through interviews, observation, and research, to make it believable. We can learn what other people thought, felt, and did, in those situations.
     

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