(October 15th, 2003, 12:18 pm)
In my daily trek to Megatokyo I found that Piro had written a rant that's surprisingly applicable to us as writers. I copied out the salient bit, and you can read the whole thing on www.megatokyo.com if you so desire.
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One of the indelible things about being human is that most of us have the capacity to feel emotions. "Oh god," I hear some of you think, "Piro is gonna talk about 'feelings' and 'emotions'. Get me a bucket." Well, like it or not, even that inner groan you feel is a 'feeling'. Everything we do is effected in some way by your emotional makeup. When I refer to emotive things, I am talking about the whole range, even the subtle and mundane feelings. These are the inbetween feelings that are often overlooked in most mass marketed media.
Emotions are funny things. Sure, there are words, phrases, commonly understood concepts that describe feelings. We all know what 'happy' means, what 'sad' means, 'depressed', 'jubilant', 'ecstatic', 'gloomy', 'suicidal', 'bubbly', 'petulant'... human language is chock full of words that describe emotions. We understand what they mean because we can connect them with how we actually feel. An essential part of human communication is the communication of emotions. Words are probably one of least efficient way to describe feelings. People are very sensitive to the signs - body language, tone of voice, the eyes, facial expressions. What's remarkable is how universal most communicable feelings are, even subtle ones
Yet there are inner thoughts, moods, places - the bits inbetween the easy to describe emotions, that I think many of us strive to understand. It's a lot like being able to see something only out of the corner of your eye, or something that becomes less distinct the more you focus on it. This is where 'entertainment' media comes in. We tell stories not because the facts of a story are really all that important, but because the process of experiencing a story lets us feel something we wouldn't get from a simple description. Good stories, or stories that mean something to us, help us experience thoughts and feelings we aren't quite sure how to put into words.
The most important thing about emotions is the fact that descriptions alone don't mean anything - it is the experiencing of emotions them that give them validity. Sort of how you can't really describe a taste, you can only label something you've experienced, and use that as a indicator. There are several levels to communicating information about emotions. You can describe emotions or the state of someone's feelings with a certain detachment. This is what news reports are supposed to be like - objective, neutral, informative. Or you express things in such a way that the reader/viewer actually experiences the feelings you are trying to communicate. This is what most books, movies, TV, anime, manga do best. They are an experiential medium.
Have you ever had anyone try to explain to you their 'great story idea'? It's usually something they have worked very hard on, figuring out all the details, what happens where, who the characters are, the mechanics of the universe, etc. ... and this is often followed by a blow by blow outline of everything that happens. The only feeling you get from listening to this is usually just the desire to claw your own eyes out or strangle the person before you. This is not because the story is bad, per se, but because the method they are using to tell you totally does nothing to convey the emotional content that they themselves feel quite strongly. A big mistake that many people make is not realizing that just because you feel something, it doesn't mean that others will automatically feel what you feel. Communicating what you feel inside successfully is very difficult, and the desire to do this is what I think drives creative people to work as hard as they do on things.
I've had people ask me to describe Megatokyo in a few sentences. I can't do it. I've been ask to describe 'warmth' in a short paragraph. I can't do that either. I think that's because the expression of the story comes out in the telling of it, in the art, in the dialogue, in the experience of it. In this world of Cliff Notes and sound bytes, I think a lot of important little subtleties get lost. And people wonder why I avoid doing the Story and Character section of this website :)
(January 28th, 2004, 1:18 pm)
This is why "show, don't tell", becomes so important. Telling something is factual, there's no emotion. Showing something allows them to experience it, and therefore feel it.
(January 29th, 2004, 12:53 am)
OOOOH! I like discussions about feelings :D We should continue this.I totally agree. But since we all agree on that, we should spin off something else we can debate about ;)
(February 7th, 2004, 5:07 am)
I listen to music... Certain music, for me, develops emotions so strong that they stand alone. You can see the results of this in my "Musical Visions" stuff.
Well, I guess that art in general does this. I am constantly on the lookout for art that hits a chord. I can't really say what that chord is or what will come from it, but I know when I see a picture, hear a stanza of music, a certain line of poetry, a phrase of prose... even a color, used correctly, can be just that final touch to stun me into a "wow".
"And I believe that we'll concieve to making hell for us a heaven; A brave new world, a promised land, a fortitude of hearts and minds. Until I see this kingdom's mine, I'll turn the darkness into light, I'll guide the blind - My will be done until the day I say our kingdom has been won." - Kingdom (Restoration) - VNV Nation
Certain works by artist Brom!; in particular "Brood" never fails to excite all manner of tingly things in my imagination. I can look at that painting and I get this incredible feel for the world and the characters that never ceases to amaze me.
"Nessun Dorma", my favorite version being the one sung by Sarah Brightman on her CD "Classics" never fails to make me cry. I don't know why... And when I looked up the English transliteration for the words (originally Italian), I thought them retarded. The music speaks in tongues deeper and more powerful than any human language can. Or, at least - the English language - but then, English is not a very poetic language. ;P
And I fear I've hijaacked another post. /end
(February 7th, 2004, 6:08 pm)
I've always had trouble with emotions - I don't feel them very well, even if I want to.
Art is the only way I've found to be able to properly feel - a sad song, a moving story or an emotive picture. I need this kind of "help" almost, to be able truly express myself.
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