Sunday, 26 January 2014

Writing - Emotional responses to writing.

Once again the day began with a compliment about my dystopian story Cessation. A friend finished reading and described a powerful emotional response to the ending. It was really pleasing. One of my aims in writing is to entertain and that comes about from the emotional engagement of the reader and it seems, from the several comments I've received, that Cessation is doing that for me. As a writer you have to be pleased. All I can say is, buy the book and enjoy!


Readers like to be touched, moved, by story. They like to imagine themselves in worlds and situations that challenge them, that give them opportunity to do and be something other than what they do or are in their real lives. Fiction, whether in book or film or games, allows people to not only step into other worlds, but to experience those worlds. To do what they can’t in the course of a normal day. To feel beyond their normal feelings.
There are a number of ways in achieving an emotional response in the reader but a list would be impossible to create as it would be different for each individual reader. Humans all react differently in different circumstances.

Write in scenes. This is something that I feel that I'm growing into as my writing experience progresses. It would be too easy a trap to fall into to adopt a 'reporting' style. When introducing a fearful situation it would be okay to write something like,

'Steele was nervous about opening the door into the large warehouse'

OR

'To Steele's surprise, his hand trembled slightly as he reached for the door handle that would gain him access to the cavernous warehouse'

By describing how your character is feeling you are engaging the emotional side of your readers brain. They empathise with the character reflecting back on similar situations in their own lives. In other words they are there!

Make your character sympathetic. Describe facets of the characters personality as well as skills and opinions. If a reader can identify the type of person your characters are they will have something to engage with and so will understand the emotional reactions that you include in your stories. Of course the obvious is also true and when writing a villain into your work you can induce repugnance by describing the evil nature of your bad character. 

Choose your words carefully. Using swear words with a character that doesn't normally swear indicates a stress that is going on. 

Use the senses. Describe scenes and engage the readers senses by using smells, sights, sounds, feelings and touch words.



I could go on at length, there are other strategies, but I'm not trying to produce a manual of how to write the Atkinson way as that, up to present, is unproven. What I'm trying to do is give food for thought and if people reading this are inspired to use some of my ideas then that is great. 

God Bless