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Writing What You Know…Emotionally

By Martha Rogers

From early on in my writing days, I was taught to write what I knew most about. During my college days, that didn’t amount to a whole lot in my opinion. In looking back at those days and some of the manuscripts, I find stories about high school romances, college days, and perfect families. I was writing not what I knew, but what I wished things were like.

Today, writing about true life experiences can lead us down some slippery slopes. Many times, what happens in real life looks unbelievable on the printed page. Other times, we are so close to the subject that we write only the fringes and don’t go deep into the emotions of the characters involved.

This happened to me when I wrote an article about forgiving my brother for the crimes that sent him to prison. The editor sent back my first submission and said it was a good article, but it lacked emotion and the take-away needed for their audience.

Before re-writing, I went back over the details of the days I was in turmoil and trying to make sense of what had happened. My parents supported my brother and loved him, but let him know his actions were not acceptable. For years after that I shut my brother out of my life thinking he could rot in prison for all I cared, until I realized I had to forgive him or I would never have peace.

After re-living the experience and all the pain and anguish associated with it, I rewrote the article and it was accepted and printed in the magazine. The editor told me how his readers would be better able to relate to the heartbreak, the prayers and the restoration of the relationship and the role God played in the outcome.

That one experience led me to a new approach and a new theme for all my fiction writing. My tag line of Touching Hearts…Changing Lives says it all about the subject matter of my writing.

By writing from the deep emotions of our own experiences and the role God played in getting us through times of heartbreak, frustration, failure, rejection, and disappointments, we show others how they too can weather whatever crisis comes their way. Our goal is to present our Savior as the one who never forsakes or leaves us no matter how dark the circumstances.

The same holds true for the joyful, happy, exiting times when the Lord has done a great work in our lives and we want to share. Putting our characters in the same or similar circumstances we have experienced gives an authenticity to our writing that only personal experience can give.

Writing in deep point of view gives more power to show those emotions as it allows the reader to be inside the character’s mind in ways that will allow the reader to feel and experience the emotions of the character. It will eliminate unnecessary words and keep the reader with the point of view character in every scene.

When we dive deep into our own personal experiences and then have our characters in any of those situations, we will take our readers on a journey they won’t forget.

Martha Rogers Informal 1Martha Rogers is a free-lance writer and the author of the Winds Across the Prairie, Seasons of the Heart, and The Homeward Journey series as well as the novella, Key to Her Heart in River Walk Christmas and Not on the Menu in Sugar and Grits. She was named Writer of the Year at the Texas Christian Writers Conference in 2009 and is a member of ACFW. She writes the weekly Verse of the Week for the ACFW Loop. ACFW awarded her the Volunteer of the Year in 2014. Her first electronic series from Winged Publications, Love in the Bayou City of Texas, debuts in the spring of 2016. Martha is a frequent speaker for writing workshops and the Texas Christian Writers Conference. She is a retired teacher and lives in Houston with her husband, Rex. Their favorite pastime is spending time with their eleven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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4 Responses to Writing What You Know…Emotionally

  1. Deep POV is a technique that takes a little while to master, but it can make such a difference in how much emotion a story has!

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. I write from deep POV and sometimes it’s painful writing. I think that’s what Hemmingway meant by opening a vein and bleeding on the page. Great post.

  3. Once I learned about deep POV from Jill and her book, my writing changed and I even became more involved with my characters. Begins to make a difference when you read other authors as well.

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