Sunday, June 1, 2014

How Cathartic Is Your Writing - By Ginger Simpson

We all know that reading evokes different emotions, and as an author, our job is to put the reader into the character's shoes and let them experience the story, feel the wind and smell the flowers.  It seems as I learn a new rule every day that makes perfect sense, and causes me to want to go back and re-write books I've already re-written, and in reading an old Reader's Digest article, I discovered some things I didn't realize...or maybe I did and just didn't connect them to my own novels.

So, from here on, I'm going to paraphrase what I read in a December 2012 copy of Reader's Digest.  I'm giving them full credit and trying not to be a plagiarist.  *smile*

Spending time reading often encourages positive thinking and fortifies friendships.  Even sad stores can cause happiness because those emotions evoke memories of loved ones and causes readers to count their blessings.

As I said above, the main task of writing is to whisk a reader into the story, and according to Raymond A. Mar, associate professor of psychology at York University in Toronto, "great reads spark imagination and absorb a person in another world."  The mental benefits of what has been read often lasts far beyond the last chapter.

Those who find themselves wrapped up in the lives of characters strengthens their ability to understand the feelings of others.  An example given is seeing the world through the eyes of Jane Eyre, may make it easier for a person to relate to a female relative's viewpoint...or differently phrased, show empathy.

We all like to feel a connection, and identifying with characters in a book brings about a sense of inclusion.  The example here is reading Marley & Me might increase camaraderie with other dog owners.  I'd rather use an example of my own.  Reading Ages of Love might help you understand that love comes in many ways and that age is no barrier.  Perhaps some person who is lonely might take a step towards finding someone to share their life with.  Okay, that was a shameless plug for one of my books, but I can never miss a promotional opportunity.

Everyone likes happy endings.  Unfortunately, I wrote a book that had only one possible ending for the time period about which it was written, and according to a review I received, that reviewer was actually reduced to tears because she hated the NON hero gets heroine in the end.  Sad, but if you GET the story, you'd get why the ending couldn't be the traditional happily ever after.  But, happy endings are what most authors strive for because they often evoke memories, even from minor events in a story that bring pleasant memories to light, lifting spirits and enhancing positive feelings.

Are your novels inspiring?  If someone in a story overcomes an obstacle, a recent Ohio State University study found that readers are more likely to find the motivation to reach their own goals.  The more an author allows their readers to identify with the character and experience events first-hand through imagination, the more likely they'll be to take a much-needed action in their life.  That's called inspiration.

So, if you'll notice, I've bolded four words of importance here:
1. Empathy
2. Connection
3. Memories
4. Inspiration

These are important elements to good writing and I think you understand why.


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