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Strong emotion as inspiration. (2 Viewers)

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JJBuchholz

Senior Member
We as writers can draw inspiration from just about anywhere, but I firmly believe that strong emotion that we feel from time
to time (either from a personal experience, or something we feel strongly about) can be the biggest source of inspiration.

For example, I have written three short stories in the last two months since my girlfriend and I split up. Each story is a different
take on certain aspects of the break up, and the relationship as a whole. Without going into too many details, we were together
for six months, things got extremely serious, we were both in love with each other, and suddenly she pulled the plug with not
even an explanation.

Because she was only the second woman I had ever felt so strongly for (the other being my ex-fiancee from years ago), the
split left me a bit of an emotional mess, but writing about my own perception of the break up (and the love we felt for each
other in the relationship) has helped me through it somewhat. It seems to me that big emotional events that we experience
can bring out a lot in a writer, as well as help evolve his or her writing by channeling said emotion.

This is just one example of something I have written while filled with strong emotion. I'd like to hear what everyone else has
managed to write due to strong emotion.

-JJB
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
While I can see this maybe working for short stories, I'm not so sure if a 'strong emotion' is sufficient basis on which to write a novel for most people most of the time.

The novels I have written have been so painful (enjoyable, but painful) that I can't even remember how I felt when I began writing them compared to finishing them. Not simply because of the passage of time (though that's part of it, even the fastest novel is realistically going to take most of us a couple months, if not far longer) but just because of the degree of work and careful diligence that is required. I can't sustain 'strong emotions' for that length of time and I doubt many people honestly could. The fact is that emotions are not static and feelings change, evolve, or fade. Short stories is different because short stories you can write pretty easily in a couple days, if not quicker. They're a snapshot, not a painting.

But, to be totally fair, it depends on what we mean by an 'emotion', I guess? Some emotional events are incredibly strong but also rather simplistic -- "I hate this", "I love that", etc. Something like a break-up probably isn't so much 'an emotion' but a tangle of things, a big knot to be unpicked, right? It's not like it's really 'an event'. The break up might be 'an event', but I'm also guessing it wasn't just the break up that inspired you -- you mention 'the love you felt for each other in the relationship'.

Something like that I can see being more...nuanced. Nuanced and longer lasting. Sort of like when writers who have been in combat choose to write about war experiences: They aren't writing about a singular emotion but a tapestry, something complicated that takes long enough to come to terms with that there is time to explore it through a novel.
 

JJBuchholz

Senior Member
While I can see this maybe working for short stories, I'm not so sure if a 'strong emotion' is sufficient basis on which to write a novel for most people most of the time.

I think in terms of short stories and novellas, and I probably should have added something to this thread that alludes to this, so my bad. I can definitely see that if someone were to use strong emotion from a personal experience to write a whole novel, that it might not pan out over that span.

That being said, I do agree that a short story can be considered a 'snap shot', but it can also pack a powerful punch to the reader as well.

-JJB
 

Sir-KP

Senior Member
I often use other people's bad behaviors and attitudes that I faced as inspirations.

Unfortunately the emotional cost is often too heavy to handle, because not only I would be angered or annoyed again from reminding myself to those, but I have to hold that extra anger-slash-embarrassment feel if it was done by family member or friend.

It turns the mood off.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
Sentimentality and melodrama supposedly don't fare well in fiction according to criticism. Not saying you do that but emotion as inspiration needs to be a way that consistent inspires you which I don't know if that's what you are saying. If you were to write a story about cancer you would have to avoid it. I would prefer to take inspiration whichever way you can get it which if strong emotion does that for you then great. Lately I have been tapping into my experiences. I am not journaling but writing what I know about life and what I don't know (a writing exercise I found in a creative writing textbook). There are some ways these are thought up as creative writing exercises. I wish I could post one large example but I have instead decided not to. One of the things they tell you is to keep a notebook however for observations for noticing and writing details. Emotion is a broad word. So I will refer to them only as these two words.

For short stories I don't know if you need more emotion. Or if it is a good catalyst to help you write stories. It can certainly help. But intense emotion felt is definitely a good for people such as artists. I don't know if that applies to writing. Some of the best painters suffered and their paintings showed their suffering on the canvas. Some great writers are artists too or all and some have been called "depressed". But they go on to write great stories.

Emotion should preferably avoid those two ways it takes form in writing. I am trying to answer the question. Which imo the standard way to get inspired for me is different. I am writing about some things which are mysteries (things I don't know.) Versus things I do know (or writing what you know)(writing what you dont know). I am trying something new. I believe its the quickest way to get ideas for me. To write about people you know. Then ask about the mysterious experiences of life that you think up around you when observing a stranger (what you don't know, or from someone who is your family that you know you ask why this is the case). It's an incomplete exercise I have been trying to do. I haven't posted it since it requires a long example to show you the results of the writing exercise. But if it inspires you then maybe you can start a story. Emotion as is can't be excessive when narrating a story. It's something new I have been trying and I am at page 71 and I have a lot more reading to do. But however again if it works for you then good. I usually think a short story needs to have a faster pace. But the emotional core I dont know.

However, the more emotion your readers feel the better paradoxically, but it's a double-edged sword. You can do it either right or wrong. I am not making it up since I read up on the topic of writing what you know or dont know and emotion as melodrama and sentimentality today in a creative writing textbook that talks about it briefly.
 
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TheManx

Senior Member
Happiness, anger, fear, grief, guilt, shame, joy, jealousy, sadness etc. -- these are the emotions, strong, recent or otherwise, that I recall feeling, that I can tap into based on experience when I'm writing about how people react and behave in certain situations, or how they react to other people's behavior. And when it comes to dialog, how those emotions affect what people say and how they react to what others say to them. And of course, on some level, I want people to recall and feel those things vicariously when they read my work.

If you're writing about human beings, how could it possibly be any other way?
 
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JJBuchholz

Senior Member
Happiness, anger, fear, grief, guilt, shame, joy, jealousy, sadness etc. -- these are the emotions, strong, recent or otherwise, that I recall feeling, that I can tap into based on experience when I'm writing about how people react and behave in certain situations, or how they react to other people's behavior.

All those emotions you describe are also vital in helping with the writing process. Our writing is an extension of who we are and what we fell, and if we suddenly ignored all of this, what exactly would we be writing, and why? I can't be alone in saying that writing comes from the heart and the soul.

And of course, on some level, I want people to recall and feel those things vicariously when they read my work.

Exactly. We want the reader to experience and relate to what we have through the words we have put on that page.

If you're writing about human beings, how could it possibly be any other way?

Truer words have never been spoken.

-JJB
 
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