Posted by: oneyearbook | March 26, 2009

Wednesday progress report

Today I started off the morning writing a scene in which a character deals with the aftermath of a tragic accident. In writing, I think, the big emotions are so easy to screw up: love and loss, especially. It’s easier to write when it’s not the point-of-view character – the external signs of grief (and of love, for that matter) are common enough. We see a character who is sad cry, become apathetic, listless, lash out at those who wish to help … we see characters who are in love talk endlessly about their lover, mooning about and sighing, making impractical decisions based on emotion … the trouble is when we’re also privy to the internal monologue of the character. How do one’s thought patterns change in love or in loss? A writer can’t (or shouldn’t) just say “She was heartbroken,” or “I loved him.”

Of course, just as in movies where the big emotion scenes are the Oscar clips for actors, these are usually the points in a novel where the best work can be done. It’s a balancing act between melodrama and underwriting the scene, though. I won’t know how I did until I come back to read that scene in a few months, but let’s cross our fingers.

Word count thus far: 20,021



  1. […] C O N U N D R U M created an interesting post today on Wednesday progress reportHere’s a short outlineOf course, just as in movies where the big emotion scenes are the Oscar clips for actors, these are usually the points in a novel where the… […]

  2. I find that writing from the point of view of the character, even if it’s extremely insightful, make the description of big emotions sometimes commonplace, while using the third person technique you can underline little things that express the character inner mood way better.
    I’m having semantic issues about what being a writer means, maybe you could help me, I’d appreciate your opinion.

    • Yeah, that’s how I feel about it, too, Nadia. I like observing something about a person, rather than seeing them observe it about themselves.

      As to being a writer … I think that as long as you’re writing, you’re a writer. If people ask you and you say “I’m a writer,” and then they say “Have you written anything I might know?” Well, that’s where most of the information comes out – you’ll either say “I’m not published yet, but I’m working on it,” or, if you’re lucky, you might say “Yes, my latest novel just hit the top of the bestsellers list.” The thing is that saying “I’m trying to be a writer” or “I want to be a writer” makes it seem like you’re not actually doing any writing, just considering it.

  3. I think writing big emotions in the first person just puts a lot of pressure on you to write them very accurately and without any trace of cliche. Third person is easier because anyone can write observations about the feelings of others – but writing them and really owning them as one’s own (as I would expect in first person) requires a huge degree of authenticity.

    I think that’s a situation where, if I was writing something I hadn’t been through myself, I would probably interview some people who had, if they were willing to speak about it.

    • Yes – despite wanting to read the third person more, I think I’m beginning to see that the first person can be the more challenging road.

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