Writing Pain in Fiction

Snippets of An Author’s Life: Post 6

I was compelled to reblog this post because it helped me to define why I need to marathon write when I work on novels.


Allison Maruska states that she can only work on her character’s painful scenes for a short time because they “leave [her] emotionally wrecked,” but she also states that “[she has] to delve into the physiological effects of rage, shock, and the early stages of grief” to “make [her character’s] reactions and emotions believable.”

I, too, have to live in my protagonist’s skin and situation, which means I have to exit from my life and spend some time in his to become him, his pain, and his limitations before I can make his story authentic. This takes time and energy, so for efficiency and continuity, it is best that once I submerge I keep writing.

It is true that some scenes are emotionally taxing, especially their full extent and implications in the big picture, which I extrapolate and analyze with my five decades of experience as I simultaneously witness (and live through) my young, inexperienced protagonist being consumed by the moment. Rather than taking frequent breaks from my character’s pain, I use it to funnel the grief, rejection, rage, oppression, powerlessness, and other unpleasantness I collected throughout my life from personal experience, other people’s experience, and research. (Writers absorb many lives in order to write.)

Giving substance–story–to emotion is not only cathartic but helps to generate better work than if I had no experience with certain crises, and the results (and need for revision) drive me to be willing to relive the experiences over and over again, even though they wear on me. (Adversity writes a better novel.) In turn, I hope to touch something in readers that is relatable, helpful, or absorbing.

I balance the tragedies in my books with hope, and in some cases, my supporting characters provide little known or used solutions that go a long way toward helping younger adults, if applied. For that I thank my parents’ insights.

Please read this wonderful post by Allison Maruska in A Writer’s Path originally posted as Writing Pain in Fiction:

A Writer's Path


by Allison Maruska

Confession: I’m writing this post as a form of procrastination and it may be a bit wandering, but I think we’ll end at a coherent place.

I’m supposed to be working through my editor’s notes for Part 2 of the Project Renovatio series (hereafter known as Project Liberatio, or PL). And I have been. In fact, I’ve been elbow-deep in said edits for the past few days. But yesterday, I reached a certain scene…

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About Eva Blaskovic

I am a multi-genre author of literary fiction, fantasy, and paranormal, and writer of non-fiction articles on parenting, writing, education, health, and travel. My background encompasses both the sciences and the arts. I teach at a specialized clinic for learning disorders and mentor young authors. In addition to writing and teaching, my passions are weather, Indian food, gardening, and music. I have played eight musical instruments and spent many years immersed in taekwondo and karate. In my youth, I was an avid canoeist. I was born in Prague, Czech Republic, grew up in the Great Lakes region of Ontario, Canada, and moved to Alberta in 1988, where I raised four children.
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