It’s no secret that some of our greatest works of literature come from deeply felt tragedy. Everyone, no matter what walk of life s/he comes from, experiences loss, betrayal, pain, anger, and even hatred. These things make us human, but they do not define us. What defines us is how we cope with life’s obstacles. Some people paint. Some people play sports. Some people meditate. I write.
In this article, I will give my tips on how to convey personal experience into your writing without falling into a pit of despair.
Emotions are raw and powerful things. They can easily spiral out of control when you are trying to recall an intense memory for your writing. When I am about to write a tragic scene, I first recall a pleasant memory. (For Harry Potter fans, it would be like the memory you would choose for your patronus.) I keep this memory in the back of my mind while I dig up the sad one. (The sad memories are like Dementors. They can suck out your soul if you are not careful.) If I feel myself becoming too emotionally compromised, I will simply think about that pleasant memory. It pulls back from the edge, and I am able to finish my work.
If it sounds too simple, that’s because it is. Our emotions are what make us so great at art and literature. All of our emotions, not just the tragic ones. Love, joy, companionship, just to name a few. So, when you want to go deep into the psychological realm of your character, just keep in mind that s/he should be experiencing all of the human emotions. Even if the story is centered around tragedy, there should be something uplifting in it because life isn’t all tragic. Life is what you are giving to your characters when you choose to put them on paper. The best writers cover all aspects of it.
From the City of Angels