Give your reader thrills
Author News Advice Blog 2 Aug 21 by Lorenzo Samuel, author of speculative fiction writings. In the 5 Feb 21 issue Author News advice blog, I discussed superior style in story writing. If you don’t recall the points that can make your story great, here they are again: 1. Is the story original? 2. Is the plot enthralling? 3. Is the author’s style superior? 4. Does the story have emotional impact? 5. Is the story memorable? This month we take up 4, Does the story have emotional impact? I have chosen to place this blog under “Author News” because it is what I try to achieve in my writing.
As we usually do, first look to what words mean. Emotional Impact, what is that? First, let’s check in Websters for the definition of “emotional.” We find the meaning “having to do with emotion or the emotions.” Well, duh. We’ve could have guessed that. How about “emotion?” We’ll use the same source for that word and hope the dictionary people are not so obvious. According to Websters, the definition is “strong feeling or excitement.” That’s a bit gutsier, don’t you think?
So, “emotional” would mean evoking a response of strong feeling or excitement.
Now, how about “impact?” According to my dictionary, as a noun, “impact” means that which causes an effect. Putting the two together, we find that “emotional impact” would mean an effect having strong feeling or excitement. And there you have it.
Applying this definition to story writing, we see that the story, or large parts of it, must produce a feeling in the reader of strong feeing or excitement. How does the author do that?
First, a warning: Parts of a story will have no emotional impact. Don’t try make them do so. However, there should be many emotional impacts within a story, so that the story overall impacts readers’ emotions.
Look for the parts of your story where emotional impact would enhance reader experience. Examples: Bled of life – The man followed her as she walked down the street past the store windows. Emotional impact – The man kept pace with her. Somewhere before she had seen or met him but couldn’t remember when. She stopped, pretending to look at a store window display. He stopped too. She walked; he came on. Then she recalled where she had seen him. She trembled. Tears came into her eyes, and she started to run.
I hope you can judge which rendition would make a reader interested and want to find out what happened next. What is it about the emotional-impact example that produces the effect? Is it the mystery about the man or why the woman teared up and ran?
Surely, as well, your reader may have had a similar experience to the woman, and that would impact due to being pulled in.
The writer should put in as many of these emotional impacts as would increase the overall emotional impact of her or his story. She or he must be careful, however, not to put so many into the story as to cloy or satiate the reader. That would have a negative effect, and the reader could well put the story down unfinished, deciding that it was contrived and unreal.
Still, pick your story spots to put in emotional impact, and your story will have that emotional impact that moves reader to tell their friends, “What a great story!”
In the next issue of Author News, we’ll take up point 5 of the judging points: Is the story memorable?