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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Under the Comnenian family, the ruling family of the Byzantine Empire who halted the decline of Byzantium from 1081 to 1185, Byzantine writers in Constantinople reintroduced the ancient Greek romance novel.
Their era, the era of the Crusades, was also reflected in these stories. These novels span the gap between the last surviving romance novels of late antiquity and the early medieval romantic revival.
Only four of these novels survive today, just one of which is written in prose. And only two have been translated into English. This post will focus on one of those, Drosilla and Charikles, by Niketas Eugenianos, (c 13th c) translated by Joan Burton (Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc., 2004)
The story of Drosilla and Charikles is interesting for many reasons. Here is the plot:
Belthandros, a Roman (Byzantine) prince and youngest son of king Rhodophilos, quarrels with his father and leaves his home to seek his fortune. After wandering in the hostile lands of Anatolia and dealing with Turkish bandits, he reaches Tarsus in Armenian Cilicia. There he sees a fiery star in the depths of a river (a metaphor for love) and follows it to the north. He finds a castle built of precious gems, which belongs to King Eros. It is full of magnificent statues and automatons.
Belthandros leaves his escorts outside and enters the castle alone. There he sees an inscription that tells of his predestined love between him and Chrysantza, the daughter of the king of Great Antioch. He is summoned by the lord of the castle, Eros, who announces to him a beauty contest at which Belthandros must give a wand to the most beautiful among forty princesses. The contest takes place and Belthandros gives the wand to the most beautiful princess, whereupon all that surrounds him suddenly disappears “like a dream”, leaving him alone in the castle. At this point he resolves to go out and seek his princess.
After a short journey he arrives in Antioch where he meets the king of the city, is accepted as his liegeman, and soon becomes an intimate of the royal household. There he meets the king’s daughter Chrysantza, whom he recognizes as the princess he chose at the Castle of Eros. Although Chrysantza has never seen him before, she too recognizes him, and the two fall in love. Two years and two months however pass before their first love meeting, which takes place secretly at night in the royal garden. The meeting ends suddenly when a jealous courtier discovers them and Belthandros is put in jail. In order to save her lover’s life, Chrysantza convinces her faithful chambermaid, Phaidrokaza, to take the blame by declaring that the prince had visited her instead. The king believes the story and a forced marriage between Belthandros and Phaidrokaza takes place.
The following days the couple continues to meet secretly, but soon the situation becomes unsatisfactory, and they decide to flee, together with the chambermaid and two retainers. On the way, they cross a flooded river, where Phaidrokaza and the two retainers are drowned, while the two lovers are separated and thrown up on the far bank. Chrysantza comes upon the corpse of one of the retainers, made unrecognizable from the river. Thinking it is Belthandros, she is about to fall on the dead man’s sword, when Belthandros himself appears to forestall her. The lovers reach the seacoast where they find a ship sent by king Rhodophilos in search for his son. The romance ends with their return to Constantinople, where a wedding ceremony is performed and Belthandros is proclaimed heir to his father’s kingdom.
I find this story interesting as it reflects the eternal truth about the difficult path to love. It also illustrates that the world of chivalry in medieval Europe was partly built on the solid foundations of Byzantine and Greek romance. I have read that love was invented in the age of chivalry, but for me the above link between Byzantine novels and antique Greek romances shows clearly that this is simply not correct.
My thanks to Wikipedia.