Guilt: Don’t Do It Alone

Guilt is a burden. It is a stress put on the heart and soul of a person. Guilt is taking the full responsibility for a bad event. How does this apply to writing, you ask? The moral dilemma.

Guilt is a burden. It is a stress put on the heart and soul of a person. Guilt is taking the full responsibility for a bad event. It can be as small as cheating or as large as a violent crime. The story builds around this event and the weight the characters shoulder. This makes it a given for many books and movies. Digging out of guilt can be a long hard struggle which makes it a powerful journey to watch/read. The resolution tends to happen when the character confesses and lifts that weight off their shoulders.

I feel absolute disgrace for allowing my cuppa to dry out. It is so sad, and I will carry that shame all the way to my coffee pot to fill it. Come, join me. I know you feel the shame. I know that cuppa is in dire need of coffee. Get your refills while I get out the reading rug. You’ll be happy to know I cleaned it. I was finding coffee stains on it. Come on peeps – we can keep it clean. 

Grab your copy of Creating Character Emotions by Ann Hood. We are on page 76: Guilt. Tuck in but watch the spillage, please.

Okay, guilt. Sometimes, my friends, even the act of telling your truth cannot fully relieve the guilt of the action. If carrying this ‘crime’ became a part of who the person is, removing them becomes nearly impossible.

How does this apply to writing, you ask? The moral dilemma. As writers, we become close to our characters and may shy away from putting them in the position of dishonor. Having them live without a world of guilt. I have put characters in the depths of these feelings.

It is not easy to do. Not so much on the MC but on me as I wrote it. I had to immerse myself in those feelings. No one is free of guilt for one thing or another. We know the feeling but sitting in it while drafting your novel can be a struggle.

**Take breaks. Talk about how you are feeling with someone you trust. **

If you are going to face guilt as a story line, do not shortchange your readers. Writing, “I feel so guilty…for being a lazy writer,” is not the way to go. Also, when it comes time to relieve the guilt from your characters shoulders, don’t be lazy. Give full details not a bullet point list.

I did:

  • X
  • Y
  • Z

There is no heart or soul ripping truth in that.

When you start to write your character telling all make sure you include the physical reactions to it. Tears, hyperventilating, sweating, and screaming. Fill it with attempts at justification.

“I did it because they asked for it.”

Depending on the action that caused the guilt can and will determine how you use the justification.

Homework:

  • What is the worst thing you could ever imagine yourself doing? Write a scene showing your character doing just that and reacting in a way that will have them carrying the guilt the rest of their lives.
  • Write a scene of justification. Have your character explain why they did what they did, and it was okay because…
  • Take the last exercise but have your character confess to someone else. Someone connected to the action. Does it feel the same? Was the burden lifted or does the guilt build?

Please remember that I am not trying to write this book for you word for word. I am skipping a lot of detail. I highly suggest you purchase the book and read between the lines.

Polish your sparkle and keep twirling.

Find joy. Be joy. Enjoy.

I’m always looking for new friends!

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