Emotion is the Lifeblood of Fiction

At the end of the movie Romeo and Juliet I cried like a river. Also at the very end of The Professional when Mathilda plants the plant that symbolizes the pure, childlike love of Mathilda(12-year-old Natalie Portman’s first movie) for Leon (Jean Reno ) in this dirty old world, I fall on my knees gushing with tears when she says, “I think we’ll be all right, now.”

Because I have this big heart that can love, be loved, and be hurt by love, I have the baseline blood for writing fiction. When I started out as a writer, I was told “open a vein” by Lawrence Block or some huge writer like that. I think that’s what he meant: You have the big heart you have to let it bleed on paper.

If you’re a rather even-tempered person who never fell in love, never was smashed nearly to madness by love, or if you never get too excited by anything, never hated anyone or anything, seldom blow your cork or feel the tremendous need to vent–I wonder what you’ll write about.

Fiction, yes it’s about stuff happening. But then it’s primarily about what the emotional response is to the happening. The blood must flow from the start and from the heart.

So if you’re a person with tremendous feelings, that qualifies you for fiction writing. You have the right blood. But can you put the blood, the emotions, on paper?

May the writing gods help you, help us all, that is the challenge of the job, the privilege, the glory.

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