Writing fiction is a challenge because it’s all about the readers’ emotions. Bestselling authors are masterful at conveying emotions. They make us cringe, laugh, and weep.
When I’m reading, if an author makes me feel, I love it, even if the emotions are uncomfortable and I have to remind myself that the book is make-believe, it’s not real. This writing skill goes beyond craft, into real art. By tugging on our emotions authors pull us into the world of their books. We keep reading.
Readers have endless options for entertainment. They can drop your novel to read another one, or they can watch Netflix or hit the kitchen for a cooking session. Of course, the siren song of Facebook is always there.
So, how do you keep readers reading?
Emotion is always the key to writing novels which make readers live in the world of your fiction and care what happens to the characters. And emotionally-driven stories start with you.
Writing fiction with emotion: focus on fear
Natasha Lester has an excellent infographic in her article, On Writing Characters in a Novel and Making Sure Readers Care About Them:
“… sometimes this makes me leave things out entirely… the full and deep explication of my character’s thoughts and feelings and emotions… how can they feel if the feelings are hinted at, suggested, but never quite there?”
Natasha focuses on her characters’ fears. Oddly enough, this never occurred to me. Yes, I knew that following a characters’ thoughts was key to driving reader emotion. Then I thought about it. My characters focused on their fears — and now I could do it intentionally.
It’s made my current novel easiest to write, because once I asked myself what the point of view (POV) character’s fear was in a scene, the scene was easier to write. When I gave those scenes to my writing buddy to read, she said that they were stronger.
She also made a suggestion. “When you write from the antagonist’s point of view and add what he fears, that might make him more human, and even scarier.”
Good advice, and I’m going to try it.
Fear drives your characters’ goals, and their motivation
I like to write my novels’ blurbs as soon as I can, preferably while the book’s still in outline form. It gives me direction. If a blurb sounds weak, I know that the novel will be weak. (Blurbs are book descriptions.)
Your blurb starts with the logline which has three basic elements. From SAVE THE CAT!® 10 GENRE LOGLINES:
“The Big Three – the hero, goal, and problem of your story…”
When I revised my current blurb to focus on the leads’ fears, it made the blurb stronger — it pumped up the emotion. I was thrilled.
Over to you: make the most of your characters’ fears
How do you handle emotion in your fiction? Do you make the most of your characters’ fears?
Her sister Catherine believes that Elaine's hair tells you everything that you need to know about her. It's flame-red. When Sir Oliver Destry trifles with Elaine, she decides on revenge. Elaine soon discovers the truth of the old saying that if you want to make the gods laugh, just tell them your plans.More info →