Emotion in Writing – Part 2

Part 1 looked at how to get the reader to invest in the main character to help establish an emotional bond and create characterisation so that they care about what happens to these characters.   To continue to build emotion in writing, writers must show the readers what to care about. Simply telling the reader how a character feels doesn’t work because there is no emotion involved. You have to show emotion to your readers for them to feel what’s happening with the story. To achieve that you need some well-worded description, which helps to strengthen a story, but also evoke emotions. Without showing , you end up with ‘telling’.   If you resort to ‘telling’ throughout an important scene, then there will be no immediacy, no connection with the main character and, ultimately, no emotion. The reader won’t care what happens to the main character. That’s why it’s vital to describe a character’s physical responses to the things going on around him/her, whether that’s a car chase, a

Emotion in Writing

A story without emotion isn’t a story worth reading.   Emotion is an undercurrent that runs throughout a story, it’s the glue that holds together certain scenes and situations and it also represents the sentiments and feelings each of your characters at any given point. That’s because emotion can create a sense of immediacy with your readers, a closeness that makes them empathise, understand and care about the characters.   But why is emotion so important in writing?   Emotion is very closely linked to conflict, so where’s there’s conflict, there’s emotion and where’s there’s emotion, there is often conflict. They’re almost intertwined, and in fiction, one entity cannot exist without the other. Conflict can therefore create an endless list of emotions.   There are several ways that writers can put emotion into their writing. The first thing is to ensure is that the readers care about the protagonist. They want to be there for every step of the journey, and to achieve

Pronouns and Descriptors

Normally, pronouns tell the reader who is speaking or doing an action – He/him, she/her, them, they, etc. Writers can also use character names. Descriptors are what writers use to tell the reader what or who the character is – usually a one or two word description, for example, ‘the manager’ or ‘the victim.’ The use of pronouns means that ‘he said or she said’ are used extensively. This might sound intrusive to the reader, but they’re not as invasive as writers think. That’s because readers are so used to seeing them that they fade easily into the background without distracting them. It’s only when writers detract from this pattern that pronouns become less unobtrusive and more of a problem. They overuse descriptors and pronouns. One common dilemma occurs if all the characters in a scene are the same gender. This presents the problem of differentiating between which character is speaking or doing the action as a way to avoid them all being, ‘He said/he did this’ etc. If they’re

Creating Tone

How often do you think about the tone of your writing? You probably don’t, but it’s something that enhances the story and creates different layers within the narrative.     Tone can work on different levels. There’s the main tone of the story and then there are undercurrents of tone, or undertones. The overall tone of the story is normally set out in the opening of the story and provides the reader with an idea of what kind of story it is – a horror, a romance, a thriller etc., and it can provide the pitch and resonance of the story to come. You can create the feel of an entire novel with tone. For instance, the tone of horror novel could be portrayed as dark, sinister or oppressive. The tone of a thriller might be shown as fast and exciting, while a romance novel might be light and flowery.   These are overtones – they highlight to the reader the type of novel they’re reading.   Then there are undertones – the mood, the attitude and the presence that your words can carry.  

Background Information

Background information shouldn’t be confused with backstory. When we talk of background, we’re referring to the peripheral details that writers use to colour certain areas of the story. It provides extra information for the reader and therefore makes the story more immersive. Backstory refers to past events which form the development of the character and story arcs, while background provides a little bit of context to the action taking place in the present. Background is all about the details that can help layer a story and provide some depth, such as where and when the scene is taking place, or subtle things that are happening within the scene. It’s important that you show the reader the background for each scene, otherwise they won’t be able to build a picture in their mind.   Writers often forget to describe where the characters are in relation to a particular moment in the story, which can make it difficult for the reader to follow what’s going on. Readers need details. If th

Fragmented Sentences – Are They Really Bad?

Every writer who has used Word will be familiar with the phrase ‘fragmented sentence’.   It’s usually flagged up because it thinks the sentence is incomplete and therefore not grammatically correct, for example: A lot of rain. The children outside. A fragmented sentence is a clause that is missing a subject and a verb, so it appears as though it’s an incomplete thought. The subject is the who or what of a sentence and it gives the reader extra information within the sentence. And without a subject, there is nothing and no one to complete the action, which means the sentence is expressing an incomplete thought – it appears fragmented, for example: A lot of time and effort. As it stands, this sentence doesn’t form a complete thought – it’s doesn’t have a subject or a verb. The verb tells the reader what the subject is doing, so if there is no verb, readers won’t have a complete picture. The inclusion of a verb provides the action in the sentence, for example: A lot of ti

Finding Connection

Finding connection is all about the ability to connect with the reader through your story and your characters.   Why? Because everything within the story should be relatable to the reader – something they understand, sympathise with or have experienced. The moment the reader makes that connection with the story and the main character, that’s when then the story takes on a deeper meaning – the moment the reader will care and become emotionally invested in what happens to the characters and the story. They’re not just reading a story; they’re being part of it. Finding connection isn’t as difficult as it sounds. It happens when you create a sense of immediacy , which is like an invisible bond; a sense of familiarity. Immediacy can be achieved through your characters, so the characters you create play an important role in establishing a connection with the reader. They have to be likeable and believable people. That’s why readers are drawn to ordinary people whose circumstances they