The Bookshelf Corner

A creative space for all things books and writing….

How To Keep Readers Emotionally Invested In Your Story

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Any piece of writing will bring out some degree of emotion whether it’s happy, frustrated, sad. But the reader should feel certain emotions at certain times, like a conductor of an orchestra The tone of the pieces is orchestrated with precision. Musical compositions and stories have much in common in this area. There is a beginning, middle and end throughout which the reader/listener is taken on a journey, an emotional rollercoaster through the perspective of the character(s). You may, for instance, start off slow and peaceful then crescendo to new heights of anticipation and fear before you decrescendo to a place where everything is changed for better or worse. The choice is up to you.

Post #1_02_kevin hood quoteSomething you do not want your reader to feel is boredom, which can happen a lot quicker than you think. Even the tiniest speck of boredom can have a devastating effect, causing the reader to become disinterested and stop reading. This can happen if the story doesn’t have something and/or someone that captures the readers attention. These are crucial elements that leave the reader curious and wanting more. I know for me I lose interest in a story if there is nothing for me to latch onto, something that makes the story click in my mind.

One way to stave off boredom is to create likable, realistic characters that the reader can sympathize with, which is, I believe, an important part of writing a story and often a challenging one. Since many people can read the same thing differently, you must ask yourself: what emotions do you want your reader to feel as they follow your characters throughout the story and how do you go about that?

For example, you have a character who decides she wants to impress others by doing a stunt in order to get them to like her and finally belong somewhere. Yet what ends up happening is an epic fail. She learns through trial and error what it means to belong and by the end has reached a point of peace with her life. The reader can relate to wanting to belong somewhere. It is a common want of human existence. They are also likely to feel as embarrassed as the character depending on how impactful the failure was. But they have found someone to root for, which initiates emotional responses from the reader and causes them to keep reading.Post #1_01_ernest hemingway quote

Ultimately, characters should appear as someone who could actually exist in real life. They should have a flaw of some kind, such as not thinking one is good enough to succeed, a fear of the unknown, or someone whose mouth tends to get them into trouble. This shows that the character is a “normal” human being and not an entity of perfection. A character who is perfect all the time may come across as uninteresting.

An interesting character has a want or desire that cannot be achieved without overcoming a series of obstacles presented throughout the narrative. They, along with the reader, become active participants in the story. The struggle to achieve one’s goals is engaging and relatable. Therefore, characters should be someone unique and appealing enough for the reader to want to know more about and, eventually, come to care about.

So what types characters keep you reading a story? What do you find makes an appealing character? Let me know in the comments what you think.


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