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Building emotional resonance in our stories.

 
RusticBohemian
(@rusticbohemian)
Advanced Member
Posts: 37

It's not hard to come up with a protagonist who gets caught up in events that cause them harm or hurt them emotionally.

But I'm looking to get better at making the readers feel what the character feels.

Can anyone give me some suggestions, or suggest some articles/books, that cover the topic of creating emotional resonance for a reader?

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Topic starter Posted : May 11, 2021 2:00 pm
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1114

The Emotion Thesaurus is a good reference for ways to describe a character's feelings. If I think of more later, I'll pop back in with more titles.

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
Ticknor Tales

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Posted : May 12, 2021 8:48 am
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SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 555

I highly recommend Donald Mass's The Emotional Craft of Fiction - excellent book for heightening emotion in your stories. 

Apparently Odyssey Workshop is also doing a free discussion on emotion in fiction tonight here: https://www.odysseyworkshop.org/resources/salon/

R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!
Stories in Apocalyptic, Cossmass Infinities, and Podcastle

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Posted : May 12, 2021 9:02 am
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Silver Member
Posts: 360

One thing I learned early, though I don't need it as much, is simply this--magnify.

In early writing, in particular, I tended to dilute some of the emotions or events, feeling that they were somehow too big, and therefore unrealistic. And what I would end up with was a kind of watered-down, timid version of what the story should be, and a character whose feelings were too muted to really resonate with the reader. The antithesis to this was to go through, and simply amp up the whole thing. That could easily go too far, of course, but I found it a very useful exercise--and by today, having done it more with early stories, I find I no longer need to do it very often, as I've shaken that bad habit away.

I'm not sure that this is necessarily a piece of advice that would apply to many, but it's something that helped me out a fair bit, once upon a time.

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Posted : May 13, 2021 10:41 pm
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czing
(@czing)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 194

I'll second the Donald Maas book recommendation. I found parts of it amazingly helpful. Other parts I don't remember as well (probably time to read through it again to see if I can pick up some new stuff).

v36 Q1, Q3 - HM; Q4 - R
v37 Q1 - R; Q2 - SHM; Q4 - HM
v38 Q1 - HM; Q2 -SHM; Q3 - P

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Posted : May 15, 2021 12:55 pm
David Hankins
(@lost_bard)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 139

@doctorjest That's a good suggestion! I too struggle with just outlining the action and events without expressing the emotions of the protagonist. As an exercise, I think I'll go back through and try doing some over the top emoting on a section to see how it sounds. I'm curious to see how it sounds and whether I'll need to reduce it back down or if my level of 'over-the-top' is actually where it's supposed to be.

V38 Q2: HM
V38 Q3: Submitted
V38 Q4: Submitted

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Posted : May 20, 2021 12:49 pm
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Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
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Posts: 2277
Posted by: @lost_bard

@doctorjest That's a good suggestion! I too struggle with just outlining the action and events without expressing the emotions of the protagonist. As an exercise, I think I'll go back through and try doing some over the top emoting on a section to see how it sounds. I'm curious to see how it sounds and whether I'll need to reduce it back down or if my level of 'over-the-top' is actually where it's supposed to be.

Powerful emotions are essential for evocative writing. But the danger for aspiring writers is to become melodramatic. Over the top is as much in error as no emotional crafting. Professional writing is developing an intuitive sense of balance in your work ... in all things.

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Posted : May 20, 2021 1:08 pm
David Hankins
(@lost_bard)
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Posts: 139
Posted by: @wulfmoon

Powerful emotions are essential for evocative writing. But the danger for aspiring writers is to become melodramatic. Over the top is as much in error as no emotional crafting. Professional writing is developing an intuitive sense of balance in your work ... in all things.

I couldn’t agree more and the only way to find that balance is to keep writing.
I’ve been reading kids books out loud for years now and I can definitely tell when the melodramatic emotions gets to be to much. Sure, it goes over well with the 8yo set, but as an adult I’m just rolling my eyes at the author. 

V38 Q2: HM
V38 Q3: Submitted
V38 Q4: Submitted

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Posted : May 20, 2021 1:22 pm
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Cray Dimensional
(@craydimensional)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 153

@lost_bard I love ❤️ reading to kids, but my kids have outgrown now. Your right once kids get beyond eight the melodrama wear’s thin.

Small steps add up to miles.
V38: R, R, P

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Posted : May 20, 2021 4:24 pm
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