Am I Emotionally Involved In Some Scenes I Write? Nooooo, Never!

Pretty much everyone knows the phrase ‘4th wall’

rndrbnlogorefers to that make-believe wall which separates those onstage from the audience in a theater. Theoretical, the ‘4th wall’ has been removed so the audience can vicariously experience whatever is happening onstage from a safe and neutral distance.

But pish-tosh. Vicarious is not a part of my working vocabulary. Neutral is merely a gear on my car. When a character suffers, I suffer. If everyone onstage is sad and melancholy, that’s my lot in life, too, at least until the final curtain call. I am that audience member who weeps so loudly my sobs disturb everyone else. Sorry.

DeathRunsFrontCoversm1I remember when I was writing the third book of the Alvarez Family Mystery Series, Death Runs in the Family. There  was a scene involving Lee Alvarez, protagonist, and the catnapping of her cat, Tugger, and his playmate, Baba. The two stolen felines were in the back of a station wagon on their way from Palo Alto, CA, to Las Vegas, NV. It would be around an eight hour drive, bad enough for two cats trapped in their carrier in the real world, but this was make believe, right? Well, not really.

I had to stop in the middle of the scene, leaving it unfinished for the next three days. I don’t remember why, but at the time it was necessary. On the third night I awoke from a deep sleep completely distraught. Lying beside me, my husband sleepily asked what was wrong.

“Darling,” I said, “I left those two cats in the back of the station wagon without food and water for three days! I have to go rescue them!”

“You mean the cats in your book? The one’s you’re writing about? The fictional ones?”

“Yes, but I can’t stand it. I have to free them. I have to finish the scene or I’ll never go back to sleep!”

Fortunately, after being married to me for decades, he just kissed me on the cheek and told me to do whatever made me feel better. So I got up, went to my office, sat down at the computer, and wrote the rescue of the cats. I was able to go back to sleep around six in the morning, but only after the cats were fed, watered, and snuggled in.  Then I gave Lee a much needed glass of wine. A red cab. I had one, too. Delicious.

In DEAD….If Only, the fourth book, there is a chapter or two with Lee Alvarez trapped onDead If Only Book Cover a boat in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico during a hurricane. It took me six weeks to write. I would go to bed each night and dream of crashing waves. Every morning I would wake up seasick. It was the longest six weeks of my life.

I just finished the fifth book of the series, The CEO Came DOA, which will be released in September. The book ends with a wedding, Lee’s very own wedding, so needless to say I was filled with joy for days on end. I got to wear a long white gown again with a flowing tulle CEO-Silver Silicon Valley copyveil, and kiss a handsome groom. Yes, it was only in my mind, but it was a wonderful ceremony. It still brings tears to my eyes.

The next book of the series is about gourmet cooking. I’m sure I will gain ten pounds.

Writers. We’re nuts.




For more on this subject, be sure to visit these fine bloggers:

Skye Taylor
Anne Stenhouse
Marci Baun
Victoria Chatham
Dr. Bob Rich
Diane Bator
Beverley Bateman
Rachael Kosinski
Margaret Fieland
Connie Vines
Rhobin Courtright

9 responses to “Am I Emotionally Involved In Some Scenes I Write? Nooooo, Never!”

  1. That’s a great post, Heather. I suffer from sea-sickness (and most other forms of transport sickness) in real life, so I would not have survived 6 weeks writing that scene. anne stenhouse

    • How funny, Anne! I, too, get sea sick and usually use sea bands when we go on a cruise. But I can’t see wearing them to bed for 6-weeks!

    • How funny, Anne! I, too, get sea sick and usually use sea bands when we go on a cruise. But I can’t see wearing them to bed for 6-weeks!

  2. That’s great, Heather, being forced to get out of bed to look after those poor cats. It shows you have a heart.
    It shows we shouldn’t let the unimportant events of real life interfere with what’s essential: looking after our characters.

    • So true, Bob. And many people don’t get that looking after our characters becomes almost as important as looking after ourselves.

  3. Absolutely – we NEED to feel what the characters are feeling, even if the tears seem out of place to everyone around us that has no idea what we just read.

  4. LOL, enjoyed your responses to your writing. You really, really become involved in your scenes, but I don’t blame you for saving those poor cats! I might have had to do that, too!

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