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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Writing From Emotion

F Scott Fitzgerald once said he had start out with an emotion: "something near and dear to my heart." That closely comes to my own philosophy of writing. Emotion is what guides the pen of any serious fiction writer--not plot. The plot is sitting there in the background but the pen flows along with the emotion felt by the writer at that moment. The reader will respond to that emotion and plot will become secondary.

Which brings us to Fitzgerald's second edict: character is action. If you create a compelling character then you have action. Again, plot is secondary. The character will either draw the reader in or he or she will not. But it will be the character that keeps the reluctant reader in there even if NOTHING IS HAPPENING. Plot belongs to formulaic movies and sitcoms and any other form of cheap entertainment.

So when you sit down to write that novel or short story then start with the emotion or the hurt that you are feeling. The fight with your wife parents friends should be paramount as you crash across your page. Most of the great novels carry the reader with character and emotion with plot running a distant third.

Books by William Hazelgrove