Making an emotional connection with readers is critically important. If you don’t, they can easily stop reading. We are all familiar with emotions. They are what makes us have a great day or a bad one. But how does a writer use them to connect with readers?
One of the most basic emotions is desire. If your characters are motivated, if they have desire, if only for a glass of water, then readers will feel connected. And the more they want something, the more interesting your story becomes, as the reader is left wondering what the character will do to achieve their goal.
Desire is the basic emotion which keeps us involved in a story. If your main character wants something, you are obliged to put obstacles in their way too. Obstacles create conflict. Conflict will inspire an emotional response in your reader and keep them turning the pages.
Some other ways to build an emotion connection with the reader are:
* Creating embarrassment for a character. By making the reader feel that embarrassment you will build a connection with them.
* Having a character abused in some way. Natural sympathy will be evoked if you do something terrible to a character we have come to know.
* Placing opposing characters in the same situation. There’s a natural tension when opposing characters meet. Your readers will feel it if the opposing characters views have been shown to them.
* Fear creates tension in the reader too. If we know the murderer is coming up the stairs, and the woman is having a shower, we fear the outcome.
* Anticipation. If you foreshadow, occasionally, without explaining exactly what is going to happen, readers will anticipate something happening.
* Surprise readers. Readers will enjoy your writing if something surprising happens. They won’t have any idea what is going to happen next.
* Excitement is a powerful writing tool. You can move the plot fast, anticipate, and spell out what might happen, and then keep the reader waiting. All the above methods combined will produce excitement in your reader.
One of the hardest parts for a writer is in creating authentic emotional scenes.
The ability to understand how it feels to be in an emotional situation and to express that feeling in a genuine and new way, without resorting to cliche or to simply naming how characters feels, is vital to creating truly engaging writing.
People look for writing that truly explains how it feels to be in each situation. And they can tell if you haven’t represented the reality in a way that’s believable.
I wish you well with this, one of the hardest challenges of becoming a good writer in the 21st or any century.
This post is the sixth on a voyage exploring the world of getting your writing noticed.
The next post, the last post, covers the impact of social media on writing and how writers might use social media to enhance their work.
Here is a link to my previous post in this series on pace, keeping things moving.
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If you would like to discuss this post or for me to review your writing and give brief feedback without charge (page 1 of your MS only please) contact me via the comments below or by email: email@example.com
Here are some links to useful information for writers:
socialmediaisdynamite.com for my blog on using social media to get noticed.
The reality of being published – 2 months after my first book came out all over the UK I wrote this post
The Accessible Author – how the author’s role is changing
Frantic Editing – a post on the editing process my first novel went through in the summer of 2011
Finally, a big thank you to all my readers, everyone who comments and everyone who visits. I hope you find this information useful on your journey to getting your writing noticed.
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I delivered The Jerusalem Puzzle to Harper Collins in London last Monday, by email. I had finished it the previous Thursday. I spent most of last weekend doing one final edit.
That was a hundred page a day edit. The kind of edit that drains something from you as you go on and on and on for endless hours each day.
But I did it. And I’m glad I did it. There were logical errors, which you see better when reading through a novel fast.
I fixed an issue in the middle about the dig in the old city of Jerusalem, which they visit in the novel, and I changed a big part of the ending too.
I spent about a year on The Jerusalem Puzzle from concept to fourth draft. I expect Harper Collins will come back in July with a series of suggestions as to how to tighten it up. These I will address during July and August. There may be more editorial suggestions in September too and then some copy editing changes in October, perhaps twice, and that will be it, I hope.
I am pleased with how The Jerusalem Puzzle turned out.
It may even be better than The Istanbul Puzzle! The Jerusalem Puzzle will be released January 17, 2013. It should be available in other languages after that. The Istanbul Puzzle is being translated into 9 languages.
I hope you enjoy The Jerusalem Puzzle when it comes out. I enjoyed creating it. If you would like to pre-order it from Amazon click here.
And I greatly appreciate every comment and kind word and recommendation you give for it.
I will be submitting an outline for The New York Puzzle to Harper Collins in the next 10 days. Once that is agreed I will start writing The New York Puzzle.
Below is a photo of the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem, which I took earlier this year. This is the main entrance to the city from the west. It features in a few scenes in The Jerusalem Puzzle.
Written February 2012
I am spending time in the old city of Jerusalem. If I stay here any longer I’ll probably have to apply for a resident’s permit. And as I am staying in East Jerusalem that may be tricky.
My reason for being here, aside from the welcome sun, is to research the next stage of Sean and Isabel’s adventures. If you read The Istanbul Puzzle you’ll probably know that there are a few questions at the end still hanging.
The Jerusalem Puzzle will move the story forward and answer some key questions.
As part of my research in old Jerusalem, where the book is mainly set, I have spent a lot of time in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the legendary site of Jesus’ crucifiction, his tomb and the burial place of Adam’s skull, according to some 2nd century sources. Whatever your beliefs, this place is an extraordinary building, a mix of mainly Crusader and 19th century, Armenian, Catholic and Orthodoxy all rolled into one. This was the place a lot of people died for before the crusades, during the crusades, and ever afterwards. Richard the Lion Heart and Saladin fought over this place and almost every other Empire since has had plans to capture it.
Here is what the entrance to the legendary tomb of Jesus looks like now (click each image to see it in all its glory):
This church is the most important place of pilgrimage in the Christian world. Bar none.
What I found though, at the end of my last visit, was a less than spiritual place. I had queued to get in to the small chapel where Jesus’ tomb is supposed to be with cries of “hurry, hurry, we are closing,” echoing in my ears. I’d visited where Mary, Mother of Jesus fell into an eternal sleep (legend says), on Mount Zion the day before and I was lucky that I went down into that underground tomb with the sound of a Polish group singing hymns echoing in my ears. That place was spiritual.
Much of the rest of the old city is a heady mix of the Arab souk, with plastic toys and wooden crosses for tourists, and a wedge of Abercrombie and coffee shop Westerness pushing up close to the city from the Jewish and modern western side.
To me Jerusalem is where three great faiths, Christianity, the Jewish faith and Islam all overlap with their bits fraying.
The Islamic faith is well represented here in the famous Golden Dome and mosques and the regular call to prayer filling the air.
The Jewish faith is evident in the devotion at the Western Wall, the Orthodox faithful almost everywhere, and through the joy of young men being escorted with drums and horns through the crowds.
The Christian faith is evident in the extraordinary churches and the pilgrims from all parts of the Christian world walking the Via Dolorosa carrying crosses and following the legendary route of Jesus to his death.
This city is an ancient fraying tapestry of faith and colour, tradition and prayer, belief and culture, the old and the modern mixed and interwoven.
I know there are many things in serious dispute here, but I hope to God compassion comes into play for a unique people and a unique place when this city’s future is decided.
The Jerusalem Puzzle, my next novel, will take readers to the heart of Jerusalem. It will expose some of the very real puzzles that are at the core of this truly amazing city. I hope you’ll like it as much as you liked The Istanbul Puzzle.