Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Blurry Line

via Pinterest

I think I've mentioned this before, but a lot of the aspects of 'Ember Flame' and 'Hail Frost' come from the vortex of snarkiness that has taken over my brain.

Little, random things that irritate me like unrealistically chivalrous heroes or phones vibrating in the middle of the night find their ways into my novel. Obnoxious gossip overheard at a mall or anger towards a sibling or my phobia-like fear of crabs all make it into the rough draft.

But it's not all bad stuff. I also include my fascination with watching a fire burn out, or the smell of pine trees in fall, or my aspiration for the sibling I wish I could be in my novel.

Basically, thoughts and experiences I've had usually morph into new imagery as I write. Sometimes I do it purposefully, other times I notice it later. I think all writers do this to some degree. And I think all writers should do this... but how far should we take it?

For instance, there is a woman that I have a been angry at for years. It's a righteous anger which she absolutely deserves. I've contemplated writing her into a novel. But should I? Would that be acting on my anger in a sinful way? Since I feel the need to be secretive about it, I'm going to take that as a 'yes' and refrain from writing her into a story that gets published. I think it's okay to vent my feelings in a private diary though. I also think it's okay to take the anger I feel towards her and reflect it in my characters when they are put in similar situations. This will make it more realistic since I have truly felt what I'm writing about.

You see what I mean? There is a blurry line between what experiences you should draw on and which ones you shouldn't draw on. Sometimes, I struggle to find a balance. My writing comes so much easier to me when I am emotionally invested in what I am writing, and I find it easier to throw myself into the story-world when I have already lived that world. And yet, I have to remember that using a pen as a sword is not how God intended me to use writing. I have to be careful to keep whatever I'm feeling towards someone relegated to my characters and not to my desire to "get even".

The 'Ellie Sweet' books by Stephanie Morrill helped me quite a lot. In the novels, Ellie is a teen writer who vents her feelings by translating her real-life into a fictional novel. Only, when the novel gets published, everything becomes a lot less fictional. I highly suggest these books for any teen writer gal, even if you (like me) aren't typically a fan of contemporary fiction. They helped me decide how I wanted to handle the blurry line between reality and fiction.

So what about y'all? Do you struggle with staying on the white side of the blurry line? Or do you not have this problem at all? (I dunno, maybe it's an angsty teenager thing) Have a great week! :)


  1. I actually enjoy putting in a few real life feelings. And yes I am in my teens :) I think it can add a perspective to use experiences or insights from your life. Sometimes you can even use a situation you were in, but change the end to what maybe should have happened, or how you should have responded. But definitely it shouldn’t be an avenue to vent negative feelings against someone.

    I love how you incorporate writing and life lessons into one blog post! :)

    Ruth N.

    1. Ohhh, I love the idea of taking a situation you were in but changing the ending. That's a great idea! And yes, I absolutely agree that it shouldn't be a place to vent negative feelings against someone.

      Writing teaches me a lot of life lessons. Or, rather, God through writing teaches me. I'm rather thankful for that. :)

  2. Good point. I have a lot of life experiences that could go into writing. But if I write something that is basically a disguised rant, chances are I'm going to regret it later.

    1. Very true. Thinking about my future self and asking if I will one day regret writing something has kept many a scene from entering my stories. I think my writing is better off for it. :)

  3. I definitely use real feelings. But when it comes to real experiences, I keep it to things that are neutral. (For example: the stinging sand in the Harshlands - I haven't experience the Harshlands, per se, but I have experienced how incredibly uncomfortable it can be to go to the beach on a SUPER windy day while wearing shorts - add some imagination, and voila! Harshlands).

    This is one reason why I do not base my characters on real people. Oh, sure, they may have aspects of real people (Brant and Kiernan, for example, resemble my brothers in appearance, and Kamarie is a lot of who I wish I could be with bits of how I actually am mixed in...) but my characters do not step out of reality onto the page. I would never want anyone to "recognize" themselves in my book. I want them to identify with my characters, certainly, but that is different.

    1. Okay, how you invented the Harshlands is awesome. What's great is that is exactly how I pictured it- like an extremely windy, extremely hot beach (I've never been to a desert, you see, so beach is as close as it gets for me :P). You did a really good job translating the scene in your head to the page!

      I agree, I don't want anyone to "recognize" themselves in the novel. I've had several people tell me that "I liked your book! Ember made me laugh, she's just like you!" (ummm... thanks?), so apparently I subconsciously put myself as a character in a story, but I don't think I've ever done that with someone I know. I suppose it wouldn't be so bad if the character were a good character, but that still would be an awkward conversation.

      "Ummm.... is the dragon hunter supposed to be me?"
      " who is his love interest supposed to be?"
      "Nobody. Just someone in my head."
      *cricket chirp*

    2. Yeah... being a major NCIS fan/nerd... one of the characters in that show is a best-selling author on the side (he keeps it fairly hush-hush), but when it comes out that he has written a book, his co-workers all read it and recognize themselves in the characters and it's awkward.

      Of course, he's not very subtle about it... one of his characters is based on his co-worker "Jimmy Palmer" and bears the name of "Pimmy Jalmer" in the book... "Tony" becomes "Tommy" and "LJ Gibbs" became "LJ Tibbs" or something equally easy to identify.

      And then some psycho starts killing off people who appear in his book because they don't realize that the book is a work of fiction and they believe they are "saving" the author from characters who want to hurt him... so... another good reason not to make any character based on a real person... or at least not make them in any way easily identifiable.