Friday, December 13

How To Evoke Emotion Through Your Writing

How To Evoke Emotion In Your Writing

Jami Gold is one of my favorite bloggers, and posts like this--How to Strengthen Emotions in Our Writing--are why.

I encourage you to read Jami's entire post, but here's the bit (see below) that resonated with me. I've been working on punching up the emotion in my writing; I printed off these tips and hung them on my wall, above my writing desk.

The Causes of Unemotional Writing & How To Correct Them

The following list is a quotation from Jami Gold's article, How To Strengthen Emotions in Our Writing.

Lack of response to a stimulus

If characters don’t react when something happens in the story, readers will see a “robot” instead of a character.

Misplaced response to a stimulus

If characters react before readers know the stimulus, the reaction won’t resonate as strongly.

Weak response to a stimulus

If characters seem underwhelmed, readers—unless they have reason to doubt the character—will assume the character knows the situation isn’t a big deal and will tone down their reaction.

Clichéd response to a stimulus

If characters react in a clichéd way, readers may skim over the response, lessening its impact.

Chopped/compressed response to a stimulus

If characters’ reactions feel cut off or compressed, readers won’t feel the full emphasis of the stimulus.

Superficial response to a stimulus

If characters react with only a physical or an internal or a mental response (rather than a combination of responses) to a major stimulus, the reaction can feel superficial.

Inappropriate response to a stimulus

If characters react wildly different from what readers expect (outside of societal norms or out-of-character) with no explanation, readers can distance themselves from the character because they no longer relate to them.

Melodramatic response to a stimulus

If characters overreact to a stimulus, readers can distance themselves from the story due to a lack of believability.
Great list! Any discussion of how to evoke emotion can be augmented by Dwight V. Swain's discussion of the subject. I touch on this in my own article: How To Create Characters That Evoke Emotion.

I hope you have a great writing day. Remember, it doesn't matter if you think you're writing crap: write!

Photo credit: "Love grows in hearts, not uteruses" by Ansel Edwards under Creative Commons Attribution.


  1. Thanks for sharing, Karen! I hope people find it helpful. :)

  2. In other words, people need to believe the characters are real. A "must" on the storytelling list.


Because of the number of bots leaving spam I had to prevent anonymous posting. My apologies. I do appreciate each and every comment.