Writing for Emotional Impact

Hey guys, I know this post is a day late but since I am still teaching summer school, it has been hectic. I am currently outlining a short story that I pretty excited about, and I am finishing up the last couple scenes of my fourth novel. I sent in my recording for the audiobook this last weekend, though I am fully expecting to have to re-record because of an annoying background hiss. Maybe, the audio engineer will be able to take care of it.

This week I wanted to talk about the idea of writing for an emotional impact and one strategy that you can use in order to achieve that result. Since I don’t have much time, this might be short, but I will do my best to explore with adequate depth.

Writing for Emotional Impact


Emotional impact is usually one of the last things that I work on in my revision process. The reason is because in the grand scheme of a story, it is the least important in order to make a work coherent but is probably the defining factor between okay stories and one’s that live in a reader’s mind long after they have put them down. The first ingredient you need for emotional impact is character.

It is imperative that your readers are connected to your characters and that they believe in their motivations and actions. If you have a reader second guessing your characters then you are creating a distance that makes it almost impossible to kick the reader in the feels. Since this isn’t a character post, I am not going to discuss how to make an awesome, engaging character here. Instead, please check out the Writing Excuses episode on Three-Pronged Character Development in order to have a launch point for working with characters that are able to connect with your readers.

Once you have a character, you need to develop their motivations. Emotional impact almost always stems from the failure or fulfillment of a character’s motivations. If you are going for something positive, you want your characters to succeed or overcome a motivations that had been previously viewed as negative. If you want something tragic, you want to cut them short before they are able to achieve their goals.

Like most parts of writing, emotional impact isn’t perfected in the first draft. Try to revise the work to increase sympathy for the character as sympathy helps the reader connect and experience the story. One of the quickest tricks to build sympathy is to have you character be kind to someone worse of or weaker than they are. The old adage goes, “Good characters pet puppies, evil characters kick them.”

Immersion is also vital to the idea of emotional impact. The reader needs to be so engrossed in the story that they have to drag themselves out of it. When the world you create seems real, everything your characters face will be real to the reader. This suspension of disbelief is useful as you will be able to get your reader to root and feel for your characters.

I am still super busy, so I feel bad but I am going to have to cut this post short. I have class coming up, and I should probably review my lesson plan. I hope everyone is having a wonderful day, and good luck with your writing.


3 thoughts on “Writing for Emotional Impact

  1. Sorry to hear about that “annoying background hiss.” Are you removing white noise from your recordings? If not, google “remove white noise in garageband.” There are tons of articles and videos.


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