You might have noticed, but I’m a highly analytical person.  This doesn’t just apply to books either.  I can’t watch a movie in the theater because (aside from an irrational fear of crowds of people in dark places) I can’t pause the action for discussion.  And I’m just as analytical when I’m watching commercials, TV shows, or news programs.  I like to figure out how things work.  Why does that commercial make a person want to buy something?  How is that news article reporting a story and how is it influencing the viewer’s opinion of the story?  How is the TV show arranged around the commercial breaks to keep me, the viewer, from changing the channel?  As a writer, this skill has been invaluable.  But it can only take you so far.

Once you actually have the writing mechanics down, there are an endless number of ways you can tell a story.  Most of my favorite books have a couple of things in common: an intriguing plot and a compelling character.  I enjoy working out the details of a plot.  Making a compelling character, however, is much harder for me.  If it’s done right, it’s a beautiful thing.  We follow the character and root for them.  If the writer is effective, we laugh with their characters and ache for them.  A good writer has the power to play with our emotions.

I want to be an emotional writer, but I’m not.

First of all, I find it very hard to draw off of powerful real-life events in my writing.  I don’t have any shortage of emotional experiences, both in the positive and in the negative.  But for some reason, when I try to capture the sensation on paper, I feel like I fall short or over-write.  And I’ve never even tried to represent some of my strongest emotional experiences.  I try to imagine agent rejections around my most painful and tender moments and I have a hard time staying objective.  As a result, I stick to safe, otherworldly, young adult fantasy.

Second of all (and I’m going to get all metaphysical) I think to represent emotion, you have to let yourself feel it.  You can’t analyze it and pick it apart.  It comes from the gut and the heart.  Not the head.  And it needs to flow organically on to your page.  No worries about sentence structure or grammar or pacing or all of those things that are supposed to be important.  Emotional writing just flows.

So, help me out here.  Are you an emotional writer?  Did you do something to draw this out of yourself, or was it something that just came to you? Do you dare to put your most painful or private feelings on the page and how do you deal with it when agents and editors don’t give you a positive response?

That beautiful photo is by artist D Sharon Pruitt and I found it on Flickr.