Kate Allan

The online diary of Kate Allan, author

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Write what you feel

This came up at my writers circle last night because someone had written a very moving piece from their real life. It's usually not easy to tackle emotional subjects, and write them from the heart. But to do so is very powerful.

And you can use them in fiction.

I was surprised that this was news to many people in the room. And it's a subject I feel strongly about and am developing a workshop about writing emotion because I think that a writer who believes they can write fiction while remaining emotionally detached from their work is somehow missing the point.

But this is what I do. I either have to press my imagination very hard to imagine my character's emotional responses - or I give them feelings I myself have already felt at another time, in another place...

A brief example:

This scene is set in a grand town house in Brentford, Middx. Winter 1810:

Lucinda’s mouth felt dry again. It was hot in here. The fire must have been going all morning and someone had recently stoked it. She wished she could pull the scratchy lace away from her neck and her stiff bodice felt uncomfortable.

This scene was first sketched out by me sat in sweltering Nice airport in 2002, overheating and having to take small sips of iced cola trying to keep cool. So in 1810...

She forced her mind to focus on the lemonade and nothing else. It would be cool and refreshing.

In Nice, I take to walking to stand near some doors to benefit from a tiny, warm breeze. In 1810, I can give Lucinda what I really wanted myself at that point:

A gust of cold air swept in. It stung Lucinda’s face but tasted delicious.

Excerpts from A Notorious Deception (c) Kate Allan

There is of course a reason why the heat preoccupies her. It's showing her unease with other matters. Which leads me on to another point - make the physical environment work for your story. But that's a topic for another day.


  • At 12:44 am, Anonymous Olga said…

    I think the excerpt is great. The reader (me in this case) can feel what your heroine does because of your vivid description, and the description was born out of your personal experience. Yes, I know we write fiction, but to describe how something tastes on the heroine's lips I might myself try it. Or some of my heroines have the emotional problems I do, and to dig deeper inside my heroine everything I have to do is to dig deeper inside me (free therapy, anyone?)


Post a Comment

<< Home