People ask me ‘how do you write this’ a lot, especially when it comes to erotic scenes and characters experiencing something extreme. So, this is my advice for anyone else with that question.
First, if you’re going to write and really draw your reader in, you must be able to feel the character. You must know their pain, their dreams, their heart, and their head. You must understand how they work and see them as if they are real people.
“No sentences can be effective if it contains facts alone. It must also contain emotion, image, logic, and promise.” – Eugene Schwartz
When I want you to feel what the character is feeling, I put myself in the character’s position. I suspect this requires a significant amount of empathy, because empathy is what allows us to emotionally connect with other people in a deep and meaningful way. It’s not that you can’t write well if you don’t have it, it’s just that there is a noticeable difference between a story where the writer put their heart into it and someone that wrote it without that same thing. To some people, that is. But to make the character real, you have to put you aside to focus on the character. BE the character and wear their skin for a while. Feel what they feel, think what they think, react as they would.
Once you’ve put yourself in that character’s place, imagine how you would feel if you were dealing with what they are at the time. If they’re happy, imagine what it would be like to have wanted what they are getting. If it’s something horrible, do your best to imagine what it would feel like. If it’s sex, put in your mind the kind of sex you want to portray, then experience the sensations as best you can before typing in those words. It’s really all the same thing, it’s just a different scenario or focus point. Just remember to feel it as intensely as possible because you won’t be able to express the depth of the feeling as easily.
After you’ve put yourself in their emotional situation, write the emotions. Write the feelings, the sensations, the speed of their heart, the sudden chill or the surge of arousal. What kind of sounds do they make? Is their skin sweaty, and if so, how much? It’s not always the details that matter, it’s the way the person feels about what is happening. It’s about their emotional responses and the way their bodies respond. Don’t filter it from your point of view, filter it from THEIR point of view. Remember, this is who they are, not who you are.
If you can’t do this easily: practice! Practice over and over until you gain some confidence. Once you feel you’re doing well, then start putting it into an actual story. Don’t rush it. Learning how to see something differently takes time and you have to exercise your brain and expand your perspective.
A trick that might help learn this technique can be having someone describe an event to you the way they experienced it. Close your eyes, picture yourself experiencing everything that’s being described to you. Their eyes are the window you see out of. Once you can visualize it, writing it becomes much easier.
Think of it like playing a first-person shooter game if that helps you. Just remember to separate yourself emotionally so that your feelings/responses don’t affect the character’s personality too much. Everyone’s instincts, reactions, and so on are unique to them to a degree, so use that to your advantage.