Posts Tagged Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence and fiction

Monday, May 25th, 2015 | Permalink

download A download (1) ALots can be said about emotional intelligence (EI), both good and bad. Saturday’s work shop (May 23, 2015) for members of Twin Cities Sisters in Crime covered the high points on the positive side of the topic, particularly as they apply to writing.

Authors Lyn Cowan and Christina Glendenning did a fine job of explaining how emotion relates to fiction since, according to Albert Camus, “fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.” And if truth-telling is the business of writing stories, authors must “get it right” because “readers expect an emotional experience from fiction.” Story-telling has been a feature of human experience for thousands of years, and the transfer of human emotions through myths not only gives life to these stories but also enables us to share the experiences of thoughts according to Wordsworth, “that lie too deep for tears.”

As depth psychologists, Cowan and Glendenning take a qualitative, Jungian approach to the study of human psyche which in Greek means both soul and butterfly. The imprecise nature of the concept reflects how  the soul is not a thing so much as a perspective on human experience that has both conscious and unconscious aspects. For writers it means that the emotional lives of the characters in their novels must reflect that same diversity and depth of feeling as readers experience in their daily lives.

Such shared emotions enable all of us to understand and empathize with the experiences of others no matter different their gender, race, or culture might be. It also facilitates an appreciation of behaviors that may be initially unpleasant or distasteful through the realization that they are not aberrant or stereotypical but common to all of us. As the manipulators of words, the duty of writers is to express these subjective emotions through metaphor and myth.

Some professional psychologists might criticize EI for being more of a skill than a measure of intelligence. Others might balk at emotions being any component of the mind or consciousness at all. But their relationship to myth make them an important ingredient in any story a writer might tell. Through an unfortunate consequence of time we writers were unable to instill the concept through the exercises Cowan and Glendenning had planned. With a little pruning and better time management, future work shops promise complete success in showing how to incorporate emotions into fiction writing.