Writers or Actors, or Both
Writers or Actors, or Both
By Tony DeLorger © 2011
I had a conversation with a fellow Hubber the other day about the possibility that suffering and strife in this earthly experience adds to the quality of a writer’s work. In thinking about it, I tend to agree. Perhaps not quality but authenticity is a better way of describing this advantage.
When we write we must have a commitment and understanding of the subject matter. That is why we write best about the subjects we already know. Life experience gives authenticity and credibility to the writer, and of course the more we experience the more we can write about with this advantage. Suffering on an emotional level can give us the opportunity to gain strength of character and to learn about ourselves and the world in a more complete way. This can add another dimension to a writer’s work.
I remember lecturing to a writer’s group on fiction writing some years ago, when this question came up. It was about writing a character that was far removed from personal experience or understanding. A woman was writing a book that required getting into the head of a murderer who commitment heinous mutilations. She just couldn’t relate so she had trouble writing.
In fiction, we as writers need to become actors. We need to be able to imagine anything and everything possible to convey realism in our words. If we are writing about some monster, we need to become the monster, at least in our imagination. We need to immerse ourselves in another reality to describe the emotions, feelings and reality of that character. Without this ability characters become robotic and lifeless.
However unpleasant, fleshing out characters in fiction writing must be done, and in minute and explicit detail. We must be able to overcome our personal inhibitions and prejudices to write competently about our characters. The example I gave this woman was about eating babies. No-one could of course relate to such a thing, and it is horrendous to think about it. But if you did have to write about it, how would you?
Writing fiction isn’t for the faint-hearted. We are driven by imagination and that imagination should have no bounds, otherwise our work just becomes a reflection of us, as limited as that can be. We have to surpass our morality, biases and beliefs to render a blank canvass on which to paint our characters, so they are as individual as we are.
Limiting characters by guiding them through our eyes alone is no advantage and we need to go deeper. As writers we need to get to the core of us to unleash the possibility of our imaginations, however difficult that may be. Freedom of thought and creativity is paramount for fiction writing and being able to relate to personal experience a huge plus.
So if you want to be a fiction writer, get amongst it and suffer a little; in the end it all helps in the process. Depth is perceivable in the work of a writer; that is why many writers become successful in their later life. So keep plugging and don’t cut off your ear for just anyone.
The journey of a writing is both introspective and open to a world of critics. However we, the imagination of possibilities are by process, the most blessed, because of what passes through us. Experience is our greatest source of sustenance and sharing thoughts through the written word our greatest gift.