Sunday, July 4, 2010

Empathy

Writers must possess incredible empathy-- and our empathy extends to things in the imagination.

I mentioned about a week ago that Basilie had thrown √Čtienne out, smack dab in the middle of what was supposed to be revisions to my second manuscript, Courting Apparitions. In order to understand the why, especially since it happened so suddenly and not as part of the drafting process, I went back and read the whole manuscript for clues (and they were there!)

But then I realized, I had a very pregnant woman, under emotional duress, and bad memories tormenting her not only in regards to how jealous her relationship makes her but also the fear associated with pregnancy.

I am now in the process of writing out what happened in Basilie's last pregnancy, even though I only need snippets for the chapter. I have to really understand what happened to her even though I can tell you in a succinct sentence what happened. And I can tell you in a paragraph how it altered her thinking about herself, her role as a wife, and her present frame of mind.

To capture successfully the magnitude and importance, I need to live the details with her, so her emotional state resonates viable and true in the present scene and doesn't fall flat.

To do that I must share her tragedy.

I'm nine pages into this, and it is very very sad, and I suspect it will take nine more pages to get it all down. In the end, the paragraph or bits of dialogue that reference this event from the chapter in question will automatically have the zing they need because Basilie's memories are now my memories and not merely a question of her internal conflicts and motivations.

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