Readers Need an Emotional Tug-of-War

Stephanie-Chadourne-PIXABAY-tug-of-war-2665148″Readers Need an Emotional Tug-of-War” by Joan Y. Edwards

Tug on the heart strings of your reader. Have him latch hold of the rope and yank the character. Have him want the character to win as desperately as the character himself.

Pull your reader this way and that way with your character’s emotions. Don’t stay stuck on the same emotion. Don’t always have the character win. Sometimes the rope of life pulls each one of us so strongly, that we tumble and fall.

Your reader must be mesmerized with wondering what is going to happen to the main character. There has to be an emotional pull with your reader to get them to stay for the whole story. The reader has to relate to the characters in your story. If a reader doesn’t feel  curious about what happens to your characters, the book is closed.

Thank you. Image by 1388843 from Pixabay

Perhaps you wrote a story, but it hasn’t turned out to be the best seller you thought it would be. What ran through your mind didn’t come out on the page. Why not? What’s missing?

The reader has to have a reason to like the character and care what happens.

You know in your mind what the characters are feeling. The problem may be you haven’t described it in your story so that readers know  without a doubt what your characters’ emotions are.

Explain what’s going on so that readers can relate to them. They can have compassion for them. Be angry with them. Cheer them on through their next problem until they reach their goal.  Q=Whwn you’ve hooked a reader, he wants to hear more and more about that people in your story as if he knew them personally.

Donald Maass in a workshop at the Pike’s Peak Writer’s Conference said you must have tension in your story. The dialogue and the descriptions have to show both sides of the picture. Show how the characters are pulled toward believing they can get the job or their goal and on the other hand and doubting they can get any job or can’t reach their goal because of the way they fouled it up last time.

Inside our heads every day we have these opposite points of view. We have at least 50,000 thoughts a day. So do the characters in your story. Show they’re human. Share their thoughts. Their thoughts depict their emotions.

Give your character one big strength and one big weakness, or give them one small strength and show its growth through your story. Our humanity is what we have in common with other people. Each of us has strengths and weaknesses.

When I tell people my story, it seems to have the emotion in it. However, when they read it, the flavor that draws a hungry reader isn’t present. I’m still working on this. I’m hoping that these resources help you find a way to pull readers into your story.

“Backstory’s Emotional Weight” by Darcy Pattison

“Creating Emotional Conflict and Tension in a Romance Novel” by Dummies.com

“Creative Writing: Crafting Characters with Emotional Appeal in Mind” by Lenin Nair

1. The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great by Donald Maass.

2. Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time (Paperback) Jordan Rosenfeld

3. Writer’s Guide to Character Traits (Paperback) by Dr. Linda Edelstein:

4. Writing for Emotional Impact (Paperback) by Karl Iglesias:

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Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2010-2019 Joan Y. Edwards. All rights reserved.
Revised September 19, 2019


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6 thoughts on “Readers Need an Emotional Tug-of-War”

  1. Hi Joan,

    What a wealth of tips. I look forward to reading them. You put a lot into one post! Thanks so much.

    Linda A.

    1. Dear Evonne, I’m glad you like my blog. Thanks for reading it and posting your kind comment. Thanks for being my writing pal, too. You’ve given me great ideas! Please pray for America. …Joan Y. Edwards

  2. This is great information and resources. It is difficult to get the characters’ emotions conveyed.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Dear Karen, Thanks for leaving a comment. I’ve been working on getting the characters’ emotions conveyed, too. What has helped you? Is it telling the reader what the character would tell his/her best friend about what’s happening to them? Is it the conversation that’s going through their mind with their inner self? I’m trying to learn. It’s the key to selling our stories. We’ll learn together. Do something good for yourself today

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