I was scatter-shot thinking of possible topics for this blog post today when this song popped up. So, this is going to be a bit of a meditation on writing.
Writing doesn’t have to be good to be true. Stick with me here. We talk about grammar and topics and world-building. Those are the things that can be controlled and learned. But there is another layer to any and every story that grabs us.
One of my college professors considered “true” a nasty little four letter word. (Also included on the list “hero” and “love.”)
I’m not talking about non-fiction. I’m talking about heart and voice. Write to me from the middle of emotions. If you want me to cry, write about something which makes you sad. Write to me raw and true and there’s a strong likelihood that I will overlook clumsy sentence structure.
Scare me. Make me cry. Make me fume in anger. Make me cheer when the killer gets caught. Or maybe make me understand why the victim was murdered. Just write me the true story.
Write to me about the rawness of coming home from combat and not knowing how to talk to people who haven’t been through the same experiences. Weave that into the heart of a story that’s about choices and finding home.
Make me feel the flush of your newest love and finding a quiet place in the forest to talk to him.
But, I will tell you this, emotion can be transmuted from one story to another. Grief for my cat translated into a story about cancer. Love for your new flame can become the pivotal moment for your hero to stand up and say “no, I will draw the line here.” Frustration with the lack of progress in government can become the germ of your super-villain’s reason for taking over the world.
Now, emotion isn’t everything. And I know it’s annoying as all the advice that says “just sit and write.” If you don’t write from that emotional truth your story will be flat, even if it’s technically perfect.
What is the truth of your story?
(Bonus Points if you guess the song the title is from.)