Is there a similarity? Hmmm. It sounds catchy doesn’t it? Recently I had an email interchange that I tried to analyze to determine what the other person thought and give an appropriate response. Having worked for ten years as a technology professional in a large mental health agency, I had been exposed to a great deal of such analysis and learned from the “experts” how important it was to have a voice consistent with your thoughts. I witnessed that accuracy first-hand and knew it to be only partially successful.
So, in regard to the email, it just wasn’t possible for me to understand what was behind words that were from a complete stranger and personalize a response.
I realized that when we read, we inject our own spice into the words we see based on our own self-dilemma. I say dilemma because no one really every knows if a person has good or bad situations going on outside or inside and those all tend to add flavor to their words. Likewise, the reader’s situation also tempers their experience when reading.
There’s the hamburger…a combination of ingredients put together to try to evoke a specific experience (eating or reading). It’s accompanied by a receiver’s ability to take the end result and extract the experience in a way that is personally pleasing (much like adding ketchup or cheese?). Yet, what appeals to one may not be good for another. Which is why we all have favorite foods…and favorite genres in books.
Writing needs to evoke emotions based on the described situation but the writer will never truly know if the receiver experiences their words as they hope. Why? Because it is dependent on the reader’s state of mind at the time and you will never know what that is. Some readers will want the emotional turmoil turned up high and get deeply involved in it. Others want minimal sensory detail so that they can extract their own vision of the drama.
How do we address that so that our work appeals to the masses? We don’t.
We must be true to ourselves and write what we want to read. Choose your characters, settings, dialogue, and situations based on the emotion that you would feel and portray it as you would expect to live it if you were the character. Understand that the most important thing in your writing is to evoke an emotional response. This, and only this, will keep them reading. Why? Because every experience in life is an emotional one. Yes, for all you tough “unemotional” guys out there…this applies to you too. With that said, it’s important to realize that you can’t control the reader’s experience so don’t even try. Just write it.
Emotion is the spice of life. It is the cheese, the ketchup, the pickles, and in my case, the hot mustard too. And it is the most important spice of your writing. When you master the ability to fill your pages with it, you will be a very accomplished writer but you can’t do this while trying to please the masses. Just be yourself. Your emotional self, of course.
The words are your hamburger –the basis of your writing. Yet, without appropriate emotional spicing, they will never hold interest and readers will choose not to read on.
Get emotional. It’s not only allowed, it’s encouraged.