Essays On Sentimentality

Essays On Sentimentality-16
1SEVERAL YEARS AGO I had an argument with a woman about Czeslaw Milosz.

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You're setting a scene, not just telling the reader what's happening. Don't try to tell your readers how your character feels about or reacts to what he or she is experiencing. Conveying a story in the first person is a good practice ground to hone skills you can carry forward into other works.

One of the most productive ways of achieving sentiment over sentimentality is to quite literally put yourself in your hero's or heroine's shoes as you're writing. Using dialog can also be very helpful in achieving sentiment. ' she shouted" gets the point across that the blood isn't a good thing at all, even if it's been dripping from the knife long enough to cool off a bit.

One of the “riders” stood up and read a poem that struck me as unbearably sentimental.

But when it was finished, people all around me were wiping away tears, and I was in a state of perplexity.

Nor do they make it any easier to distinguish the “affected” from the authentic, even when you are not implicated in the emotion or act yourself.

Not long ago I attended a meeting of Orphan Train riders – the seventy, eighty and ninety year old beneficiaries and victims of one of our nation’s early experiments with foster care.

A word with which most writers don’t want to be associated.

A word often summed up with a quote by Oscar Wilde: “A sentimentalist is simply one who wants to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it.” there is a “kind of collective shame that we feel about sentimentality,” a shame that “manifests as an accusation—accusing a film of a piece of art of manipulating our emotions.” Pritts writes that his “primary worry” is “that in this crusade to root out sentimentality, people have begun to eradicate sentiment as well.” “One of the main critiques of sentimentality is that it forces overly simple narratives, but the crusade against sentimentality has become one of our simplest narratives of all: too much feeling, earned too easily.

Sentimentality comes up as an issue for nearly every writer at some point.

In attempting to convey strong emotions, it's easy to go too far and make your reader feel manipulated instead of moved.


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