Thursday, June 7, 2012

Immersion

The Free Dictionary defines immersion as,
 - 1) The act or an instance of immersing.
 - 2) The condition of being immersed.

It has several other definitions as well, but for different uses of the word.

Why am I talking about immersion?

Well, sitting down with my laptop tonight, I realized that I didn't really know what to write about. So I sat back and began letting random ideas bounce around like popcorn in my brain while I checked my email. One piece of brain-popcorn hit harder than the others: when writing fiction and it feels like something is "wrong" with any given seen, I have found that it is often due to...

- 1) I am outside of my character's mind.
- 2) I am emotionally disconnected from the characters and scene.
- 3) I cannot see what is happening.
- 4) Description--of setting, thoughts, emotions, etc.-- is lacking.

There is a lack of immersion. As the author, I am not immersed into my story enough, or my character isn't immersed enough into the action.



A friend of mine was having trouble with a scene. She said it felt off. Like her character wasn't involved enough, because she wasn't actively doing anything. We brainstormed, but couldn't find very much for her character to physically do.
Then it hit me. I noticed the character wasn't thinking/feeling much either. She was just kind of sitting there.
I mentioned that to my friend, and she reworked the scene, this time taking into account her character and probing her for reactions. Voi la! The scene was ten times better.

I've had the same problem with scenes before, a lot of times. I expect I always will to some degree. Sometimes I will be typing away, la-de-da-de-da, and then wham! The chapter falls flat on its face and ends up with a bloody nose. Ouch.

Reconnection is then necessary, unless it's an actual plot problem. Then it takes more than reconnection!
While I don't pretend to have all the answers, I've found a few things that work for me.

- 1) Close my eyes. Yup. Simple as that. Close my eyes and watch the scene play through my head, like it's a movie.
 - 2) Put myself into the character's shoes. What are they thinking? Is the situation frightening them, making them excited, causing them to feel shivers of apprehension race up and down their spine? Are they touching anything? If so, what is its texture like? Are they sweating, or thirsty, or secretly laughing about the guy at the other end of the room who has a red, white, and blue mohawk?

After that information has been gathered, I write it down. It can be tweaked later. Without opening my eyes, I try to write out exactly what I am seeing as it happens, and what my PoV character is experiencing on multiple levels.
Usually I find that this puts the spark back into my writing. I'm immersed into my story-world and into the people populating it. There's a connection again, one that might not even be noticed until it's gone.
But when it's gone, I can tell. I'm pretty sure you can too. Like a car with a blown fuse, it still might be running but the lights aren't working.  Don't leave us in the dark. Immerse yourself.

Chazak,
- Hannah

[Photo Credit]

4 comments:

  1. Nine letters for you: B, R, I, L, L, I, A... Can you see where I'm going here?
    This is true. Unfortunately, usually I disregard my characters' emotions and sensations, making for speedy storytelling but less interaction between reader and character. I'll work on it.
    Very good post.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Liam.
      I have a bad habit of falling into that sometimes too. Thankfully my characters are usually too alive/independent to allow me to skim over what they are going through too quickly.

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  2. I feel the need for character immersion too when I'm in the middle of a writing project. I like this post alot. Thanks for sharing your thoughts & I'm going to remember this.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot, I'm glad you liked this post and found it to be helpful.

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Thanks for taking the time to comment! Chazak Amats, and have a beautiful day.