Any writer worth her skill knows that one of the most important aspect to storytelling is the emotional connect the reader needs to have any investment in the story he is experiencing. I’m sure you also know that achieving this emotional investment is a lot easier said than done.
But when it is done well it leaves an echoing effect. How many times have you been reading and find yourself just shy of yelling at the characters because they did something stupid, or laughing because of a snippet of dialog? How many of those stories can you name because of the effect they had on you?
So, in the interest of sharing my own experiences and looking into tricks for my own writing here are a few tips to hook the reader into emotionally investing into the story.
One of the best ways to create an atmosphere is by using emotive words in your description of locations and setting. It’s important to use the descriptions because it sparks the readers imagination. As an example, which evokes more of an emotional response from you?
The graveyard was foggy, and the tombstones were so old that some were crumbling away.
The early morning mist slowly creeped over the graveyard; it’s foggy tendrils flowing between the ancient, decaying tombstones.
I feel that this is one aspect of writing that is often overlooked. Every story has a speed that ebbs and flows depending on what actions are being performed. Are the characters in battle? Are they taking a leisurely stroll? Both of these would require a different pace in your writing.
If there is a sense of urgency then use shorter sentences, minimal dialog, descriptors that feel fast. If there needs to be a moment of relaxation then extend the sentences, use slower feeling adjectives, and increase the dialog.
She rushed her attacker. Parry, thrust, stab and counter; the battle raged on. Her fury consumed her.
He yawned and stretched himself out on the warm grass. The shade of the tree he was under turned the unbearable afternoon heat into a pleasant napping place. As he gazed up at the clouds, he remembered thinking, This is what heaven must be like.
3. Honest Emotions
This one is probably the most difficult for me as I want to skip onto the next area that I’m writing. However, it is incredibly important that you take into consideration how the characters in your story would react in different situations. It’s hard to remove yourself from your creation and be objective about it all, but if you want to create credible characters you must give them honest emotions.
What I mean by that is simply this. While you might react one way to a situation, your character may respond differently because of their upbringing, events they have gone through, or their perspective of the event in question. Having them express that emotion honestly to the reader (even if they conceal it for a time) gives them a spark of humanity.
Here is another great article that takes it more in-depth: The Editor’s Blog