Tuesday, June 30, 2009

You want emotion? I'll give you emotion!

Well, I didn't win the Editor Unleashed Flash 40 (forty flash fiction pieces) contest. My entry didn't even place in the top forty. Last I checked, it ranked 101st in the popular vote.

So it goes. I liked the overall winner. Well written, well constructed. With an emotional punch.

I liked, and I believed rated highly, many of those in the top forty. I'm fond of my own. How could I not be? But I know it's a difficult one for some. A comment, included with a rejection I received once, complained that "not much happens". Well, on the surface, no.

The contest, and the winners, stirred up quite an emotional tempest. No surprise really. Odd were suggestions that emotional impact was, somehow, inferior to technical accomplishment.

I was reminded of a comment made by a contemporary of mine in, the Irish equivalent of, High School. Good music, by which he meant classical music, stimulated the mind - and not the emotions. That latter was, perhaps, the domain of such inferior music such as pop or, dare I say it, jazz.

Patent nonsense, of course. If music does not stir the emotions, what's the point? If art, of whatever form, does not stir the emotions, why bother?

Creative writing, if not aiming to create an emotional bond with a reader becomes a exercise in form. It may even contain sound and fury, yet it still signifies nothing.


  1. I too had to scratch my head at the notion that plucking at the readers heartstrings was somehow a cheap ploy (paraphrasing here). I always thought writers wanted to connect to readers at an emotional level, unless of course, they are writing the EE dissertation.
    I have always been a bit amused at the superior attitude some readers have about their reading preferences - reading only "real" literature as opposed to popular fiction. A good tale is a good tale.

  2. You beat me! Mine was ranked 110, which for someone who doesn't really write fiction, and considering the number of entries, I guess that's not too bad.
    There has been a lot of heated discussion, hasn't there? So much fun! :)

  3. Excellent thoughts! I only read fiction (or listen to music) if it touches my emotions; otherwise, what's the point?

  4. I know poorly done tugging at heartstrings merits the name melodrama. But, when done well -- isn't that what we might all aspire to? I do. And, is it not the job of the storyteller to elicit emotion?
    I know, rhetorical questions. But, is not rhetoric an art form in itself? :)