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Living Loz
You can't just state your emotions, that makes me feel angry! 
17th-Sep-2012 05:01 pm
Loz Cola
Ugh, guys, I'm finding it very hard to get into characters' headspaces lately. Not in terms of understanding why they do what they do, but conveying that to an audience? It always feels so forced and clunky. I've struggled with this aspect of writing forever, but ever since The Closet and Dr Caligari I've found it even worse; almost impossible. How do you do it? How've you seen other writers do it? How do you make things clear enough that people aren't all "your characters have no emotion" but aren't just writing things like "He hadn't listened and that made Gus sad" (which isn't an actual example, but terrifyingly close to it, bleugh.)
19th-Sep-2012 11:40 am (UTC)
I talk to myself in my head all the time. It's usually disjointed and full of, like, fantasy scenes of me being an awesome singer/writer/hugely popular fan. I'm still 12.

But, importantly, I also do tend to label my emotions. "Oh, Loz, you're feeling sad because [x]."

Meh. :D
19th-Sep-2012 11:53 am (UTC)
Okay, that first bit sounds fairly typical, and the second bit is definitely not how I think, but could work for some characters. You're not the only person I've heard from who does that. (For me, emotions seem to hit primarily as physical sensations, and labeling just makes things feel worse - good stuff feels less fun, and bad stuff feels more depressing - so the emotional part of my internal monologue is much more about how it effects how I feel physically, my impressions of what's going on around me, and what I expect or anticipate.)

I think you're not as bad as you think you are, and the "Ugh, I'm awful!" reaction can actually interfere with attempts to improve, because it makes it harder to see when you are doing it right.

Are there any writers you like who handle this kind of thing effectively?
19th-Sep-2012 02:20 pm (UTC)
Good question, but they do it so seamlessly I can't usually pick apart their techniques, and as said, when I feel like I try to do it, it feels contrived and out of balance. Not always, admittedly, but sometimes.
19th-Sep-2012 08:52 pm (UTC)
I hate it when I can't figure out the technique! A while ago, someone told me my male narrator didn't read as convincingly male, and recommended James Tiptree Jr. as a writer who was good at producing a convincing male voice, and so I went and read a bunch of Tiptree and ended up more confused, because everything of hers left me going "People seriously didn't guess this stuff was written by a woman?"

It's hard to fix this kind of writing problem Usually, what works best for me in trying to get a character's interior monologue is to alternately watch/read the original and let the character yammer away in my head until it feels right.

Maybe this is one of those things where you let yourself get so self-conscious about this particular point you've psyched yourself out?
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