Writing Through Polarized Glasses

I left my favorite sunglasses at a friend’s house this weekend and have been forced to resort to my back up pair. They’re polarized. Colors, when viewed through them, are more saturated. The blue sky is VERY blue. The orange and yellow and crimson leaves of autumn blaze brighter than normal. When I take them off, the world seems dull in comparison.

Of course, this makes me think of writing. Pretty much everything makes me think of writing. But my polarized sunglasses make a good point about writing with emotion.

We want emotion in our writing. But writing from the gut, pouring it all out on the page is HARD. It’s so easy to just rush through those emotional scenes, brushing the surface, but never getting deep enough to pull our readers in. I have a couple of theories on this.

Perhaps, we assume that since we are feeling the anger, the passion, the fear, our readers certainly must be feeling it as well. Guess again.

Perhaps, we’ve been told to keep a lid on our feelings. Bottle up our internal pain. Put up a brave front. In order to write authentically, we need to search out those emotions in ourselves that we want to put on the page, to torture our characters, to make our readers weep or gasp. But we don’t really want to go there…to that dark place in our psyches that we’ve boarded up and marked with “no trespassing” signs. We need to scratch off the scabs of our old wounds and draw blood and put that raw, uncensored angst on the page.

Sometimes we’re afraid that if we write our emotional truth for everyone to read, it will seem corny or over-the-top. That gives us an excuse to tone it down.


Write your emotions like my polarized sunglasses view the world. Crank it up. Make it more vivid, more fiery than you think is necessary. Otherwise, the world of emotions in your writing will seem as dull as the world of color when I take off my sunglasses.

By the way, the Word Watcher Challenge for October is on, if you want to get on board.

If you’re in the Pittsburgh area, my friend Rebecca Drake will be doing a booksigning at Joseph-Beth Booksellers at the South Side Works at 7:00PM, Friday, October 13th to promote her thriller Don’t Be Afraid. And if you mention that you read Working Stiffs, she’ll have a little prize for you. Mentioning that you read Writing, Etc. won’t get you a darned thing. Sorry.


Rebecca Drake said…
Nice post, Annette, and what a great way to remind us to ratchet up the emotional and the textural (okay, my own made up term for concrete detail) in our writing!

Oh, and thanks for the plug! Yes, please, come and join me at Joseph-Beth on Friday night.
Joyce said…
Excellent post, Annette! All things I've been thinking about lately!

It is so hard to get that emotion on the page. I hate conflict in real life, and it's difficult sometimes to put my characters in situations where they're going to get their feelings torn to shreds. I decided I have to kill off a character in my WIP who is very close to my protagonist and I have to mentally prepare myself for it. Funny how we get so attached to people who aren't even real!

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