When you think of an emotional book do you think of a book that makes you laugh or makes you cry? Truth is, both are emotional. By making a book emotional you are making a book that can invoke an emotional response whether that be laughing out loud, crying in despair, putting the book in a corner and telling it to stay there and think about what it’s done. I did that with a recent read.
These are good responses, they all mean you have managed to get your reader emotionally involved in the story you are telling. In this article we are going to look at 10 ways in which you can make you book emotional.
10. Killing Characters
How many of you thought killing a character was the number 1 way of getting your readers to respond with emotion?
The problem with this approach is it is overused. So many authors have done this for the shock factor that readers have come to expect it. Not enough emphasis is put on making people fall in love with the characters first.
I’m not saying don’t kill anyone in the story, I’m saying follow these tips if you plan to kill someone.
- Don’t kill for the shock factor.
- Ensure the character is as fleshed out as anyone else in the story.
- Kill only if the story absolutely demands it.
- Killing is not a cheap way to get rid of a character you don’t want around anymore. It can seriously damage your story, find another way to get rid of them.
- Your characters are not going to get over this in a day. Be realistic in emotional expectation.
Remember: The best story deaths have a lot more to them then the unexpected.
People love it but don’t overuse it.
Have you ever watched a video full of jump scares? By the end of it the scares are expected and you don’t jump anymore, right. It’s the same in writing.
Sarcasm is awesome to read, especillay if you have a sarcastic charachter, but if every single line is full of wit it becomes less enjoyable. Make. Them. Count.
Choose your perfectly sarcastic lines then keep them in your back pocket until the right moment. It will hit the reader all the more and make for a great moment of hilarity.
8. Make Mistakes
Everybody makes mistakes. This includes the character that you have spent years developing to make them absolutely perfect for your book. If they are perfect in every way and do not make mistakes your reader will not be able to relate to them.
I read a great book last year where the guy kept doing things that I knew was a bad idea, was a mistake. I facepalmed so many times. This guy was relatable! Because I could relate to the stupid mistakes that he made whenever he had to act in the spur of the moment I worried about him, I cared about his choices, I hoped he wouldn’t get caught doing stuff.
It will be the same for your character. Let them make mistakes and people will relate to them.
7. Break the Fourth Wall
It is important to understand that this will not work in every novel, but used correctly in the right situation it is an amazing thing.
Breaking the fourth wall is when you break down the barrier between the reader and the story, you talk directly to the one reading the book or do something completely unepxected that breaks the norm of writing to get your readers attention.
These tricks are done for the reader and does not affect the story in itself. The best way to explain is it with some examples. I found someone talking about the time lemony snicket did this. Enjoy.
We have all given up at some point on our lives. We don’t always have the answers as to what we should do next. This is especially effective in story writing if they have friends with them who expect them to always know what to do next.
Make your character give up.
Make them refuse to carry on fighting. Refuse to finish the story. They’re going to leave and not try any more because trying only gets themselves or others hurt.
Make the reader root for the character, make them want to see the character succeed. Make them yell at the book Get up Get up. You can do it come on! I believe in you.
This works with any genre. They could be fighting a legal case, a real war, a hero villain scenario, fighting for love, fighting to keep family. No matter the case, people can always give up and it breaks our heart when they do.
5. Get Back Up Again
After 6, this will come with euphoria, happiness, relief. It could have been so bad if they never picked themselves up.
It would be absolutely devastating for them to give up and that be the end of it. If you have done things right, the reader wants nothing more then for your character to succeed, they may not know how, at this point thy may have no hope, tears streaming down their face as your character gives in completely. Imagine the relief when something happens for that character to stand tall once more and try again.
“You try you fail, you try you fail, but you only ever really fail when you stop trying.… Try again.“
4.Second Hand Embarrassment
I hate when this works because I hate being embarrassed but it certainly draws you in to the story.
It’s that moment in a book when your character gets caught doing something that looks way worse than it is, or says something stupid because they don’t fully comprehend what is going on.
It’s that moment when you read the page through your fingers as you try to hide your eyes in the same moment. Do not underestimate the power of this, it a moment your reader will always remember even if they do not wish to.
3. Facepalm Moments.
Like second hand embarrassment but with a wider scope. Anything that can make your reader facepalm.
My favourite trope here would be an all knowing narrator in a detective novel. When you know who done it and the main character doesn’t and gets all friendly with the killer.
These situations can lead to facepalm funny, facepalm scary, facepalm whatever next?
This can be achieved in many ways:
- The character misses something that seems obvious to the reader
- All-knowing narrator
- A conversation where someone lacks the facts
- Ego power trips taking precedence over plot
I’m sure with time you can think of many other ways to achieve this. Why not take notes the next time you are reading a book and facepalm? What caused it? How can you achieve the same result?
2. Impending Doom
When you know the character is walking into a trap and you can’t do nothing to stop them.
Is it just me or does anyone else yell at the scream to warn the characters that they need to get a move on because the enemy is about to ambush them?
This affect can be achieved when writing too. You do not need to be an all knowing narrator for this, just a narrator that follows a few storylines. For example:
The main character is coming to rescue a sidekick, the sidekick is held by the enemy. The enemy has prepared a trap and told the sidekick. While the main character expects some form of trap he/she does not expect the kind that is coming and the reader yells at the pages, trying to warn them because, surely , there’s no way they can survive. The enemies plot is flawless. Someone will die!
That impending doom can get one’s heart a racing with worry. That is what they call a page turner.
1. Kill a character
Wait, but you said that was overused, shock factor and all that.
But done right this is the most heart-wrenching moment in any book. Not just the death, the aftermath. How people react.
There is a reason writers use it so much. It is the thing the reader fears the most. But you must do it right.
Read the books with your favourite death scenes and ask yourself as a writer:
- At what point did my heart die?
- When did I realise that character wasn’t going to be saved?
- When did I start to cry?
- What part had the biggest impact? The moment of injury? The moment of death? The way the others dealt with it? The aftermath?
SPOILER ALERT HARRY POTTER SERIES.
I’m pretty sure you’ve all read Harry potter. If not and you plan to read skip this bit.
Sirius death scene. It killed me. Not that moment that he died though. Not the moment you realised he wasn’t coming back. No. It was the moment Harry yelled at Dumbledore. The moment he started throwing things around the office. The moment you felt Harry’s pain in a way it resonated with oneself.
Think about that, and all the other death scenes you love when you kill a character.