Whether emotion is a plus or minus in our writing is always debatable, at least in fiction. As writers, we want our readers to feel what our characters are feeling: love, hated, anger, joy, sadness. But it’s a touchy business. Too much emotion and our characters seem more like caricatures. The hateful villain with no good qualities, the selfless hero who never thinks of himself, or the ditsy heroine who never thinks, period. None of these stereotypes make for good characters. No villain can be all bad, no hero all good. It’s our job as writers not to force the issue, to allow our characters to develop as the story progresses so that readers will find them believable.
In non-fiction, on the other hand, the less emotion the better, unless you are writing a memoir or autobiography. Our job as non-fiction authors is to present readers with a set of facts regarding our subject matter. We aren’t there to make conclusions, to judge the subject(s) in a positive or negative manner. This is the approach I used in both Hoop Lore and Elvis Presley, Richard Nixon, and the American Dream. It wasn’t always easy, as I feel passionately about both Elvis and the NBA, but I do believe both books are better because I used a neutral approach. In the Elvis/Nixon title especially, I felt it was important to allow readers to reach their own conclusions as to whether either or both deserve the reputations they carved out in American history.
Additional note to my readers:
Given my stance on emotion in writing, I am opting to create a spin-off blog here on WordPress that will consist of personal musings on whatever topic I feel like writing about on any given day. Some of it will be vaguely writing related, though I will continue to use this space on Grassroots Writers Guild for the majority of those posts. As you can see by our sidebar, we have grown tremendously over the past year. There has to be a line drawn, and I am doing so today. I will be posting a link to my new site on the sidebar of all my pages for those of you who want a more personal look into my life, not just as a writer but as an animal lover, an Elvis fan, an NBA nut, and a gardening addict.
Since I have yet to launch my new site, I am going to use a bit of space here to post a photo of Java, our beloved boxer who crossed over the Rainbow Bridge on Monday. Goodbye, my sweet, sweet girl. Say hi to Annie for me when you get there. I hope you two girls have a wonderful time together running and jumping and barking and playing. I love you both from the bottom of my heart.