Word by Word

Practical insights for writers from Jessica P Morrell

Quick Take for writers: Remember your Scars

Written By: Jessica Morrell - Sep• 09•15

Stephen King once said, “A little talent is a good thing to have if youscarred wood want to be a writer. But the only real requirement is to remember every scar.”

Fiction is based on a dramatic situation where interesting people experience interesting problems that seem unsolvable. As the story progresses important events will unfold until the problem is resolved. Pretty simple, right?

But what of you is in the story? Each of us mines from within. Do you have a story that has nestled within you for years? We all have our own truths, passions, ghosts, and worries. Most of us have had our heart torn open, have felt grievous loss and unfairness. Many of us hold secrets we dare not share.

If you’re a writer, start from self knowledge. What scares you? What makes you angry?  What keeps you awake in the lonely hours before dawn? What are the themes in your life? Why did you start writing in the first place? What passion called you to storytelling?  Our most  potent writing comes from our deepest fears and darkest secrets.

If you want to create a novel you won’t abandon mid-story, write toward your fears. Crawl into the shadows and uncover ghosts. Ruminate about your grudges, pet peeves, hungers, enemies. What has shamed you?  Make sure the feelings you bring to your writing desk are deep and real and powerful.

Writing is how we come to understand things. If you can’t remember your scars it will be difficult to imbue your characters with deep emotions.  We all use these parts of life in our writing. Trying to forget the blistering parts of your past—trying to repress or deny reality—will weaken your creative vitality. And it takes sooo much energy to hide your pain and scars. Better to write it out, to unearth the restless dead. Better to endow your scars onto  a character than to keep picking at them.

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