1. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    Do you get emotional over your scenes?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Robert_S, Jan 26, 2014.

    I sat in the library reading a script from zoetrope and working on my own screenplay. It takes me a bit of time to get into the scene, but too many times, for this scene, I find myself getting emotional. I'm weeping for this poor decrepit creature reduced to eating maggot infested food in an apartment without electricity, water and broken windows to survive as the end comes for his people, brought about by the leadership of his world. The only culture remaining for him is his musical instrument.

    I can imagine it, but I don't think the words I'm writing will ever do it justice.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2014
  2. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    Yes, I do get emotional over my scenes, and I think it's essential to experience those emotions. But it's equally important (and rather tricky) to keep some analytical brain cells in operation at the same time to work out how to build sentences that convey what you're feeling. You have to revise and revise and revise; but it's your emotions that will ultimately tell you when those analytical cells have cobbled together the right combination of words.
     
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  3. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    Absolutely, especially since every one of my scenes is based on something that actually happened at some point in my life. Two scenes in particular, one where my MC gets the call that her high school sweetheart was killed in a car accident, and another where she looses her child make me cry like a baby. They are still sitting on my hard drive unfinished because I can't get through them. Unfortunately, I can't skip them either since they are crucial to the plot because they are what trigger her full-blown heroin addiction.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2014
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I do. It's how I think about the story while I'm writing it. If I didn't feel it, it would just be words on a page.
     
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  5. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    More so when reading them then writing them. I definitely feel it when i'm writing, but I can't say I am moved to tears while writing a particularly sad scene (maybe because I know I have to keep writing. But it's a little different, I mainly feel the energy and vibe of a scene, not necessarily the emotion--though a strong scene can elicit emotions... I just haven't written any that good yet, I don't think.
     
  6. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    Yes. I sometimes get emotional as I'm writing.
     
  7. TDFuhringer
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    TDFuhringer Contributing Member Contributor

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    I didn't think I would, but during a particularly hard scene where a character had to be emotionally honest, I found myself blubbering. Now when I read it, I can avoid getting teary and look at it objectively. But at the time, oy!
     
  8. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    I find it helpful to identify the specific emotions the characters are experiencing in a scene, emotions that I want the reader also to feel. Don't get hung up on sadness as the emotion you feel. Name the emotions in your scene: grief, fear, exasperation, relief, joy, fury, embarrassment, amusement, torn (between alternatives), puzzled, etc.

    In The Art of Fiction, John Gardner describes an exercise he used to give his writing students, and it applies to this topic:

    Describe a building as seen by a man whose son has just been killed in a war. Don't mention the son, war, death, or the old man doing the seeing; then describe the same building, in the same weather at the same time of day, as seen by a happy lover. Do not mention love or the loved one.

    Describe a lake as seen by a young man who has just committed murder. Do not mention the murder.

    His point was that when you get yourself emotionally oriented to the character's circumstances, that will color how you describe a scene, even when you don't mention the emotions or the circumstances that give rise to them.

    Another useful book on this subject is Getting into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors, by Brandilyn Collins.
     
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  9. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    That makes sense. However, this particular character has been reduced to a near animal existence through the loss of civilized amenities and fear of being caught by the creation of his world's leadership. The flute he has played most of his life is the last remnant of civilized culture remaining for him and is the only thing that keeps him from going completely feral.

    I'm looking into both books as a possible pickup.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2014
  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I remember creating a scene where I badly injured my main character, and I had to keep walking away from the computer. :( It was REALLY hard to write that! There are a few other scenes in the novel when a character does or says something that cuts close to the bone, and I felt sad and sniffly while I wrote them, too.

    What's strange, though, that afterwards I was able to look at all these parts of the story with a very objective eye. The strong emotion occurred only while I was actually writing the scenes. I can read straight through them now, without a single blub!
     
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  11. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've cried when terrible things happen to my characters - or, most especially, when they inadvertently do terrible things to each other - but that was mostly when I was much younger than I am now. I have the Paris Review interview with Truman Capote, and he says this:

    "I seem to remember reading that Dickens, as he wrote, choked with laughter over his own humor and dripped tears all over the page when one of his characters died. My own theory is that the writer should have considered his wit and dried his tears long, long before setting out to evoke similar reactions in a reader. In other words, I believe the greatest intensity in art in all its shapes is achieved with a deliberate, hard, and cool head."

    That makes sense to me, now that I'm old. I cry when I'm thinking about the scenes, but after working over them for a while in my head, I'm finished with that. When I put pen to paper, I'm more clinical and detached. Oddly, or maybe not, when I read the passage over again after leaving it for a time, I cry again. But not when I'm actually writing it.
     
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  12. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I try not to, but sometimes it's unavoidable. Any time I find myself getting upset, I know it'll need a fresh eye, and heavy hand when it comes to the editing. Otherwise, it would just read like a bit of melodrama.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2014
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  13. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    I don't.

    But I think i should. I think they might just be better scenes if I did.
     
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  14. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    I agree. Try to imagine the scenes Mister Spock would produce using only his superior rational capabilities.

    Or consider a mirror image of this question: Try to imagine coming up with a logically sound solution to a mathematical problem without using reason and logic. Couldn't you just "feel" your way to a solution? That's about as likely as "thinking" your way to an emotionally resonant scene.
     
  15. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    You have to put yourself in the scene. When I'm imagining it, I'm looking down at the box of maggots trying to find something to eat that isn't too soiled. I'm seeing the wind blow into the apartment from the broken windows. I'm splashing rainwater over my face from a bucket. I know 80% of my people are dead. That's how I get in the scene. My MC has to see it as a personal experience despite being born 12,000 years after, so I have to see it.
     
  16. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    I wrote the pivotal scene in my last novel about my MC's most important "person" in his life returning from the dead so he could make amends for not being there when she died, even though it wasn't his fault. This guilt was preventing him from accepting the love from my female protagonist.

    The returning "person" that I used to generate my character's emotions was a recently departed dog. I placed myself in my MC's head and imagined exactly how I would react if she came back. I wrote a (I think) wonderfully touching scene, and had tears streaming down my cheeks when I was finished.

    I also became so attached to my female protagonist that I found myself worrying about her several times during the process of writing her scenes. So yes, I do get emotional/attached/protective of my characters and the scenes they endure.
     
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  17. Passero
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    Passero Member

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    I maybe don't get emotional however I try to get into the mood as this helps me describe the feeling.
    Often I "force" myself in the mood of a specific scene by listening to specific music.
    I have playlists that will match a specific scene. For some reason that really helps me and at some points the words just flow on the harmony of the music.
     
  18. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    This just happened last night.
    I was writing a scene where my female MC has just nearly been killed by her boyfriend (strangled, after he catches her in his computer). She needs to break into a closet to get her car keys he's locked there so she can leave. I was partway through the scene when I was called away for dinner. I was completely distracted the entire time; and felt a huge sense of relief when I finally got back to the computer to write her way through this dilemma and got her out of the house. I wondered why this affected me so much; it wasn't hard to figure out.

    I left my character hanging...even though I knew (as the author, who outlined the scene) that she would escape the house before Evil Boyfriend returns, part of me was frightened for her. I simply had to 'write her to safety' before I could relax. What a weird experience!
     
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  19. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Yup, I've turned into one of my favorite movie characters - Joan Wilder in Romancing the Stone, blubbering over her own writing and commenting - God, that's good. Lol.
     
  20. yagr
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    yagr Contributing Member

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    Yes, I get emotional during emotional scenes, often having to take a break because I can't see the keyboard through the tears. On a side note, my wife and I haven't had income for months since I became disabled in May and she was injured in September. We are living in a very rural area in an old shop with no running water, no gas or electric heat (we start a fire for heat), yes, broken windows and our car died so getting to the food bank is out of the question now too. So, if you have questions about what one thinks and feels in such a situation, feel free to ask. :)
     
  21. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    Thanks, but I can't specify what characters think. I'm writing a script, not a novel, so it's absolutely what you see and hear and nothing of what one thinks. In this series of scenes, I'm having this character remain silent.
     

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