Question 65: Writing pain

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darwin456fran asks: How do I write pain or painful emotions correctly? Such as painful cuts or self-harm. I seem to lack in that with my writing since I'm quite new to this and getting the hang of it.

Since I'm unfamiliar with cutting or self-harm, I can't really speak to how to effectively convey this. However there are a few readers who have offered to answer questions about it (see bottom of Chapter 5: Be Authentic). From what people have told me, self-harm comes about when the emotional pain becomes so unbearable and repetitive that the body kind of shuts down the emotion center of their brains. Humans are feeling creatures, so when the emotions are cut off (for self-preservation) they start to feel deprived. Hollow. Cutting and other methods of inducing physical pain is a way to break through the numbness. To feel something. If anyone wants to clarify this or correct me in any way, please do. (Check the comments for some helpful information on self-harm, as well as tips on what not to do. HUGE thanks to everyone who contributed!)

As for how to describe pain, think about how you felt the last time you felt emotional pain. What sensations did you experience? Did you feel heavy? Hollow? Constriction in your chest? Pay close attention to these things, because these physical cues are an effective way to convey the pain in writing.

If you're inexperienced or blissfully unaware of how emotional pain feels, then try watching movies. When a character appears to be suffering from heartache or sadness or depression, study how the actor behaves. Watch their facial expressions, daily habits, and the things they say.

You may also want to review Question 22: Conveying emotion.

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