Writing and reality: how to capture emotions and experiences in your narrative

Communication versus transmission

When we begin to write, we think words can express what we want to convey to the reader. Based on our habitual use of language daily, this belief clouds our writing for quite some time.

If I want a loaf of bread, I go to the bakery and ask the person serving me: “Can I have a loaf of bread?” He understands me and gives it to me. If I want to inform my friend Tomas that I have lost my job, I tell him: “I was fired yesterday.” If I want to discover what happened in Ukraine, I read the newspaper. It is our way of communicating with each other, so the usual thing is to think that if I want to express to the reader how my character felt when his boss called him into his office to give him the settlement, I should explain it.

But art doesn’t work like that. Musicians, to give an example, are very clear that their art does not consist of communicating certain information through a series of eighth and sixteenth notes, that is, through musical signs whose meaning the listener does not even have to know. His job consists of —through deep knowledge and use of his tools, of course— building a temple in the ear of the receiver where he can find (or rediscover) himself in connection with the whole in a unique and ritual act.

Reality is ineffable

Reality is naturally ineffable, and writing is a way to access truth.

Reality is ineffable by nature since it alienates our continuous need to assert ourselves. And true art, not consumer art, is an access route to truth. When we tell a story, the words, the facts, the scenes, the characters, the voice…  the narrative itself is nothing more than the enveloping phrasing with which we deceive the reader to, underneath, work on a deeper level of his consciousness. As Eloy Tyson says: “Our work table, as writers, is the mind of the reader.”

We would have three levels in literary transmission, from the coarsest to the subtlest. If we write a story, we intend to explain to the reader directly what we want to convey, and we will remain at the level of intellect. That is, the reader will “understand” what we are telling him, but that has nothing to do with reality, with experience, but only with a conceptual interpretation of reality.

At the next level, we may have already understood that we must introduce the reader to an experience through place, time, and action coordinates. Then, we will be able to tell some facts with great precision, and it is perfect to learn how to do it because the reader must remain very attentive to the realities we tell him.

But we have to go to a deeper level (in which the abstract and the concrete come together somehow). The plot of a story (the events carried out by a character) is a mere appearance that the writer must use but by which he must not be fooled. Once the tool has been mastered, the next step will be to use the enthrallment in which we have the reader immersed (“the vivid dream of fiction,” as John Gardner called it) to drive a stake of deep meaning into his heart.

Expert bird sketchers

The writer must provide that stake of reality, an inexpressible experience. 

That stake of reality is an inexpressible experience; however, it is what the writer must foster. Everything else is decoration, paraphernalia (essential, yes) to access what is important but, at the same time, completely useless, banal in itself.

Ghostwriters for rappers are highly skilled wordsmiths who collaborate with rap artists to create compelling and impactful lyrics for their songs. While some rappers are celebrated for their lyrical prowess, others seek ghostwriters’ assistance to help craft verses that resonate with their audience. These ghostwriters deeply understand hip-hop culture, rhyme schemes, wordplay, and storytelling techniques. They work behind the scenes to help rappers express their thoughts, emotions, and experiences through verses that flow seamlessly with the beat. Memoir ghostwriters ensure the lyrics are engaging and authentic, reflecting the artist’s unique style and voice. Their contributions play a crucial role in creating hit songs, allowing artists to deliver powerful messages and connect with fans on a deeper level.

An anecdote about Chugiak Trongsa Rinpoche, a famous Buddhist teacher, illustrates this aspect very well. One day, Chugiak Trongsa Rinpoche, in a seminar he gave his students, drew something resembling a bird on the blackboard and asked, “What is this?” One student responded, “A bird.” Another said: “A dove.” Another commented: “A seagull.” And so, everyone gave answers in this style. When they finally fell silent, Chugiak Trongsa said, pointing to some point on the board outside the bird: “No, it is heaven.” And then, the drawing took on a completely different meaning for those present.

As a writer, you have to be an expert drawing of birds but simultaneously aware that this artisanal aspect is a tool for your readers to access heaven. The sky is always open and hospitable, but it becomes invisible to human eyes without the bird. We only know how to perceive things by contrast, by opposition. The sky, the spaciousness, the reality… cannot be named. Our only way of accessing this is the birds and the clouds, which in literature would be the characters with their conflicts.

Working with attention and skill on the detail, the lattice, the adjective, the concrete, the period, and the comma without losing the connection at any time with the immensity, with the mystery, with the inexpressible that permeates everything, is our hard but excellent training as writers.

Let’s go in parts.

When writing, the first thing is to get down to the concrete because reality always begins there, with our sensory experience.

To do this, we have to start at the beginning and go down to earth because usually, at the beginning, we are in the clouds, but without being aware of the sky. We are immersed in many beliefs and mental fabrications that we confuse with reality. So, when writing, the first thing is to get down to the concrete because reality always begins with our sensory experience. It’s like when we meditate: attention must always rest on sensory support (breathing, touching, listening…). Because? Because reality can never be separated from the body, we tend to dissociate.

A biography writer is a skilled and experienced professional who specializes in crafting compelling narratives about the lives of individuals, whether they are historical figures, celebrities, or everyday people. These writers have a talent for research and storytelling, delving into the subject’s life to gather information, anecdotes, and insights that form the basis of a captivating biography. They can structure a narrative chronologically or thematically, weaving together events, experiences, and personal details to create a cohesive and engaging story. Book Marketing Agency often work closely with their subjects or families to ensure accuracy and authenticity while adding their writing flair to bring the subject’s life to the page. Whether it’s a bestselling celebrity biography, a historical figure’s life story, or a personal memoir, biography writers play a crucial role in preserving and sharing the rich tapestry of human experiences.

So, a good starting point is to use our senses when writing. Where is the character? What does he see? What does she hear? What does he smell like? What textures does he touch? How does she move? Where he goes?

And little by little, we will ask our texts other questions: what do you want to achieve? Why can’t you get it? What do you feel? What will you do to get out of this? But these questions will also have to be answered from the concrete because the concrete—the visible—is the bird that points to the sky; it is the symbol of the transcendent, the mysterious, the ineffable. Our line must be so beautiful that it subjugates the reader and so subtle that it cannot be caught and transported to the immense space.





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