How To Write With Emotion

By on January 28, 2017
How To Write With Emotion - Writer's

The one thing that all writers need to be able to master is how to write with emotion. If your audience doesn’t feel anything about your story, about your characters, they won’t connect with your book and will find it difficult to engage with what's going on.

Think about your favourite books, why do you like them? It’s likely to be because you care. You care about what happens in the story, whether the characters get what they want or get what they deserve. Your favourite books have probably made you laugh, made you cry, had you on the edge of your seat unable to wait to see what happens next.

Writing with emotion can be tricky, however. If it is not done in a realistic and believable way it will leave your readers feeling cold, going over the top is off-putting to readers and could mean they distance themselves from your characters rather than connect with them. However, too little emotion will have the same effect.

So how do you get the balance right? Here are some helpful tips.

Have a range of characters

Having a good variety of characters in your book will help you to tap into different emotions in your reader. A hero or heroine is usually a good place to start - this is a character who is inherently good, but probably flawed. Their journey and their goal are what your story will be about. You need to write this character so you audience roots for them, so they forgive their mistakes, identify with their flaws and struggles and desperately want good things for them come the end.

An evil character is one your reader should love to hate, they can be as despicable as you like but they must also be unique - villainous characters should make your reader feel shocked and afraid. Then there are the comedic characters, the ones where you can write with humour and be a little silly. These figures provide light relief and are often the most fun to write.

Think about how you want your reader to feel

Be very clear in your mind about how you want your reader to feel at any given moment. Take a step back and re-read scenes that are charged with emotion. Think about how you would feel if you were reading them for the first time. Do they have the desired effect? If not why not?

Give the reader room to feel

This is the classic ‘show don’t tell’ lesson. If you spell out exactly how a reader should be feeling to them, it can take away all the joy. No one wants to be told how to feel; you have to let them get there on their own.

Be careful - emotion is dangerous.

If your readers become emotionally invested in your book, make sure you don’t disappoint them. Writing with emotion must lead somewhere, if you make a scene emotionally charged don’t let it fizzle out and fade into the background - readers will pay attention to these scenes, so make sure they lead somewhere and are relevant to your story.

Know your characters inside out.

Knowing your characters inside out will help no end when it comes to writing with emotion. If you know how your characters would react in any given situation, it will help your writing become more believable. Readers will notice if your normally placid and shy character starts screaming and yelling and weeping hysterically out of the blue.

Know when you are going over the top

Sometimes simple is best. If you write every single sentence fully loaded with emotion, it will quickly become tiresome for the reader. When it comes to writing with emotion, pick your moments and make them compelling.

Remember, the joy of reading comes from connecting with a story and reacting emotionally to it. Readers want to step into an imaginary world and believe that they are there, seeing the sights, smelling the scents, feeling the emotions - that’s what will make your story memorable, and what will keep readers coming back for more.

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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