Today I’m talking about creating emotion in your writing. (Note: Much of what I’m discussing comes from or was motivated by Robin Wells’ “Under Their Skin” Workshop given at RWA’s 2009 Conference.)
Every writer aims to get the reader emotionally involved in the story. An emotionally involved reader is one who will likely come back to you as an author. So how to create this necessary emotion in your writing?
Writing with Detail
Writing is all about the details. Readers want to experience the story as they read it, and it’s the details that allow them to do that. Detailed writing engages the senses. It’s the oft-mentioned showing instead of telling.
So what parts of your story should be written with significant detail? Anything that:
- Builds tension or conflict
- Establishes your character’s personalities
- Evokes a memory (a past experience that shapes the character)
- Gives the story greater depth
- Hints to your book’s theme
- Means something to the character
A few tips on using detail in your writing:
- If something is going to be important later on in the story, allude to it earlier on. If the heroine will need to shoot a home intruder, find a way to mention the gun in her nightstand earlier on so it doesn’t come out of the blue.
- The sense of smell is a strong way to evoke a memory.
- The things your character notices about others can say a lot about his or her current mood or overall personality.
- Make sure your details don’t bore your reader. A bored reader will put down your book and most likely won’t come back for more.
- Remember, you don’t have to do this all in your first draft! Adding detail can always be accomplished in later drafts.
Can you think of anything in particular that engages your emotions when reading a novel?
For me, it’s jealousy (read: major conflict). Whether it’s the hero or heroine, create a situation whereby one of them has reason to be jealous, and I’m hooked. That’s why I particularly enjoy reading about love triangles.