This week: Face Your EmotionsEdited by: Kittiara
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It's not always easy to allow yourself to feel. However, it is essential.
This week's Drama Newsletter, then, is all about facing your emotions.
I feel that I have to be honest with you: I am not that good at writing drama. In fact, I try to avoid it. For years now, I have even gone out of my way to avoid content of a dramatic nature, be it in the form of a movie, a novel, or a TV series. Drama confronts me with the reality of human nature, with its beauty and its darkness, with all the pain, and fear, and love, and passion that are part of daily life. And sometimes I can’t bring myself to deal with that.
Why, then, do I write for this newsletter? I wasn't always this way. And I believe that it is time for a change. As a reader, it’s good to try out different genres. As a writer it’s important to experiment. As a person, it’s interesting to analyse why I shy away from drama. To say that I don’t want to read a book or watch a movie just because I think it will make me cry is simply not a good enough reason. I can always invest in a box of tissues. So, what is it about drama that’s so daunting?
I remember reading The Green Mile by Stephen King. Though King tends to write horror novels, I think The Green Mile crosses over into the drama genre. I spent the entire final chapter in tears and I am not ashamed to admit it. The Chamber by John Grisham had a similar effect on me. And don’t get me started on movies – from E.T. to Forrest Gump to The Lion King, I soon turn into a crying wreck. I’m the only person I know who thought Happy Feet was utterly depressing.
I tend to avoid movies with animal characters because whoever makes these decisions seems to think they're excellent fodder for whatever shock factor they have in mind. I won’t go anywhere near Marley and Me. I still remember watching Ben; for several hours afterwards I felt distraught.
I think it’s fair to say that I’m a wuss. That’s why there came a point when I decided that to maintain some dignity I should stick with nice, easy, happy, funny movies and novels - it’s safer that way. I wouldn’t embarrass myself in company and wouldn’t have to explain why, when all I’m doing is reading a book, my face is scrunched up and my eyes are puffy.
The thing is that when you avoid drama, you are, in a way, avoiding an important aspect of life. Drama is about emotion, from true joy to deep, utter despair. Drama taps into reality, and reality isn’t always cute and cuddly. It isn’t always happy and bouncy. To try and deny this might work for some, but not when you want to be a writer. Writers have to understand these things if they’re ever going to create believable characters. Readers need to be able to relate.
To be a writer you have to be able to tackle topics and issues that you might not be entirely comfortable with. In fact, if something does make you uncomfortable, it helps to gain an understanding of why this is so, because then you can draw from the experience. The more you learn, the more you grow, the more you analyse the world around you and the world within, the better the writer you can become.
Good drama writers understand this. They know exactly how to trigger emotions and pull on the heartstrings. That’s what makes their work effective. If their story leads to a shrug of the shoulders, and leaves readers cold, they’ll soon be without an audience.
I realise that the majority of the movies and books I mentioned are not actually classed as your typical drama story. They only contain aspects of the genre, but then again, a blend of genres is quite common. I guess I haven’t merely been avoiding drama, but anything that I suspected of potentially triggering certain feelings.
You can’t escape emotion, no matter how hard you try. And why should tears be embarrassing anyway? If drama mirrors life, and life consists of laughter and tears, darkness and hope, bring it on.
Drama writers, I salute you.
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Wishing you a week filled with inspiration,
The Drama Newsletter Team
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