As writers, we want our words and stories to have an effect on our readers. But what about the effect they have on ourselves?
Chills and Pounding Pulses
Okay, so there's this one paragraph in my WIP that always sends chills down my spine when I read it. It's not frightening per se, just dramatic (at least to me). Whether or not this transfers to a reader or not is beside the point. The point is that it means I'm emotionally "into" my writing. I personally think that's a good thing. It's like a painting or other artwork without emotion invested--while it can be perfectly rendered, it can lack a kind of "soul," or personal connection.
A friend on Facebook the other day commented that one part in her novel made her cry. She'd gotten to the heart-wrenching part of her story. I believe weeping along with your characters is a good thing! If you, the writer, aren't dredging up the depths of your own feelings, it's less likely to impart that feeling onto the pages.
That being said, I tend not to be a weeper while writing OR reading. I can tear up and feel sad or aching, but I rarely let loose the floodgates and grab for the tissues. I'm still affected, just not in a full-blown way.
In contrast, I personally have a very light funnybone, and when I read published works, I can be amused by the simplest things. Funky coined words. Unique juxtapositions. Subtly sly dialogue. A surprising thought or expression from a character. I chuckle throughout the entirety of some books.
When I write, I always have these sections that *I* think are amusing or even hilarious. But humor is an atrociously subjective thing. Sometimes these passages are marked by my critique partners as funny (with "hahaHA" inserted in the margins), while at other times they are marked by comments of puzzlement, apathy, or even rejection. And while my agent admits my writing has humor, she still has no problem taking the axe to certain bits and telling me they don't work.
Also, sometimes our humor just doesn't work in a particular passage, even though it may truly be funny. Things like FLOW and PACING and MOOD come into play. Maybe the humor is too slapstick to fit into a somber tone. Maybe it's too flippant to fit into a serious romance scene. Even so, it may be that just the wording itself needs to be tweaked to make it work better; there's no denying that certain words--depending on their connotations, syllables, etc.--can lend a totally different atmosphere. I myself tend to undermine serious subjects with humor at times, for instance using comical verbs when a more sober one would be more appropriate (admitting it is the first step toward correction)!
Does your writing give you chills, surges of excitement, chuckles, or leave you reaching for your tissues? It should. It's not a requirement, but an emotionally invested writer is more likely to get that emotion onto the page, and therefore elicit an emotional response from his or her readers. But even if not 100% of your readers react the same way (or react, period), at least you've put yourself into your writing, as an act of personal and emotional creation.
Is there a scene or passage in YOUR writing that makes you laugh, cry, or get chills?
Do your critique partners "get" your humor, or are they sometimes puzzled?
When you read, are you an outright weeper or do you react more mildly, like me?
How important do you think it is for a writer to be emotionally invested in his/her own writing--is it mandatory in order to obtain reader connection, or just an added bonus?