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    Does unsettling subject matter bring heightened catharsis for both writer and reader?

    When a writer explores the dark and disturbing — think rape, pedophilia, abuse, addictions, and so on — the subject matter makes the writer penetrate the side of life we so often like to leave alone and, in turn, the writer must come to terms with his/her personal views of the subject matter. However, when readers then take the work up and read it, they are given only so much of what a writer knows to be true about the world created within the story or novel. Do the readers really have the chance to work through their own views on the subject matter in a way that enables them to experience catharsis? How does this work?

    • By definition, catharsis means to experience release from a repressed emotion. To experience a release from horrific actions like this works from both ends. Your feeling is like the center clearing of the forest with two roads leading to it from completely opposite ends. What makes this difficult is writing it in a way where it is experienced by both parties. You need to find that point of commonality between both. In the end, even readers are touched ad hit. Perhaps it works best if the story is told from a first person viewpoint. In that way, both the reader and the writer get similar tastes of what it means to be in that situation. It is challenging but effective. – SpectreWriter 9 years ago

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    Latest Comments

    You’re welcome! I hope you find it useful!

    Working with The Shadow: A Writer's Guide

    As to the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: It’s been many years since I’ve watched it from beginning to end, but I do recall being seriously disappointed by the glitchiness (perhaps not the best word, but it’ll have to do) of the CGI. It’s particularly noticeable in the fabricated animals, i.e. wolves leaping at Peter, and the verisimilitude of the film feels disjointed as a result. Thinking back on it, it strikes me that you could sort of see an outline of sorts, like a fuzzy area, around the item that they CGId into the film. This is especially true if the CGI is moving rapidly at a run or leaping. I grew up in a forest, so wild animals and their movements are nothing new to me. Oh, the fur moves oddly at times, too.
    I’m glad to see someone verify what I have been saying since I was a kid in the 90s. 😉

    Computer Generated Images: The Utilization in Hollywood Films

    Finally, somebody said it. I have thought the same thing about CGI for many years and, ultimately, I believe it has it’s place but the real should be emphasized if we want to use CGI to momentous effect. Another example of CGI being used to poor effect is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

    Computer Generated Images: The Utilization in Hollywood Films

    Although I’m not an avid gamer, I found your parallel to Lovecraft interesting, as I love reading about how obscure work has influenced today’s pop culture. Thanks for the interesting read!

    The Resurgence of Lovecraftian Themes in Video Games

    I really enjoyed your work. It summed up the aspects of the shadow without beating the reader up with terms, jargon, or extraneous details. It has given me a few more reasons than I had previously thought up for why the trilogy I’m working on right now is so important and also helped to explain possible ways for why I decided to write on such a controversial, taboo topic.

    On a side note, I loved the writing exercise idea. In exchange, one that has helped me in the past is to visualize your character in your head and place him/her in a difficult situation (dangerous, emotionally strained, fearful, tense, or other) and examine how s/he responds physically to the stress.
    Does one finger start to twitch, does s/he repeatedly put on more lip balm at intervals, blink more than usual, sweat, blush, flare the nose at ultra tense points in the scene, get antsy, punch a wall or throw objects, wrap themselves in a hug or other closed position, tap a foot, twist a bracelet, flip the keys on his/her lanyard or do something else entirely?
    I find it enables me to a) gauge the physical reactions of a character and b) gives me a visual cue as a point to begin analyzing why the character is reacting to the stressful situation in such a manner and what else this might suggest about the character as a whole.

    Working with The Shadow: A Writer's Guide