THE EMOTIONAL CONNECTION
That may seem like a vast generalization but think about it. Artists, whether they employ paint, words, sound, film or another medium, aspire to connect emotionally with their audiences. When the art doesn't generate any feelings, the viewer turns away, the reader puts down the book, and the audience leaves the theater. We want to feel. We crave feelings caused by a strong story well told because they make us feel alive. And when expressed through art, they're safe—except for the occasional nightmare or two after you've read a scary book.
Chills, thrills, love, lust, fear, rage, passion and pleasure. They and other emotions are what make life interesting.
The word itself may trigger visions of tears, sobs and mawkish prose but an outpouring of overwrought, phony feelings is the least effective way to sell fiction. Authentic emotion makes a blank page sing. A story that makes you feel is likely to stick with you forever.
Let’s assume you now understand the impact and importance of emotion in your novel, but you don’t know how to add it. Do you sprinkle a few frightening events here, a dab of romance there, a bit of anger at regular intervals? That won’t work. Haphazard emotion without clear motivation won’t make sense to the reader. Make sure your characters have good reason to behave the way they do.
Beginning writers have a tendency to describe feelings though physical reactions. Consequently, we have an over-abundance of churning stomachs, shivers down the spine and rapidly beating hearts. It's more effective to show emotion through behavior and dialogue.
It should be intrinsic in the story, not added to it. When you plan your novel, you should look for a plot that will embrace it. Think of all the classic stories, Romeo and Juliet, The Phantom of the Opera, The Old Man and the Sea, The Yearling, just to name a few. Every one of them is filled with powerful feelings.
Creating emotion in a story requires a delicate balance and the skilled touch of the master. If we believe – absolutely believe – the characters are genuine, the dramatic events could happen, and the feelings are true, the outside world disappears and we enter a fictive dream that lifts us to a new, more intense, more meaningful dimension. We experience art in a form that enriches our lives and affects us in a way that electrifies us and leaves us breathless.