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5 Tips for Evoking Emotion in Writing

Bestselling author Rebecca Yarros coaches writers on how to create believable emotion in this article.

No matter what genre we write in, we all have the same goal—we want to bring our readers along for the journey. How do we get there? By reeling them in with their emotions. Think about your novel as a roller coaster. Sounds odd, but trust me.

(Emotion vs. Feeling: How to Evoke More From Readers)

Here are my top five tips for evoking emotion in readers.

5 Tips for Evoking Emotion in Writing

1. Give them someone to root for

It all starts with our protagonists. We need our readers to feel connected—to care. Struggling with a difficult hero or heroine? Don’t despair. Even the most unlikeable character can be relatable with a quick “save the cat,” moment early in the plot. Think about who they are as they’re waiting for the coaster to begin and why they’re there. A little backstory can work wonders.

2. Use deep POV

By using visceral emotions, we can bring our readers right into our character’s head. Does their heart quicken as the coaster clicks up the first hill? Does their stomach rise into their throats as the coaster drops? Giving physical cues to the reader takes them out of the spectator position and into the seat with your character.

The Things We Leave Unfinished

The Things We Leave Unfinished by Rebecca Yarros

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3. Up the ante

Where are your stakes? What is your protagonist going to lose if they don’t succeed? Is this your character’s only chance to overcome their fear of roller coasters? The bigger the stakes, the more your reader will be invested in the outcome.

4. Go along for the ride

If you’re strapped in with your character on that roller coaster, then it’s far easier to nail those same emotions in your writing. Ride with your characters, instead of watching them ride. The golden rule is golden for a reason—show, don’t tell.

5 Tips for Evoking Emotion in Writing

5. Twist the plot

Drop the bottom out of your roller coaster, throw in a loop no one saw coming, and your readers will never forget the journey.

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