This is a guest post from Alicia K.Leppert.Alicia always knew she wanted to be a writer, ever since Career Day in first grade when she walked around carrying a notebook and pencil. Twenty-some odd years later, after a short stint in high school where she dreamed of being an actress, a whirlwind Internet romance including a blind proposal that led to a fairy tale wedding and two pretty-near perfect kids, her lifelong dream came to fruition with her first novel, Emerald City. She lives with her small brood in her beloved hometown of Pasco, which is located in the only part of Washington state that isn’t green. When she’s not writing, she can be found decorating novelty cakes and taking naps–her other two passions. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
A good story can be read. But a great story must be felt. William Styron said, “A good book should leave you…slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it.”
I’ve read countless books in my life that were highly entertaining. They had clever plots, lots of action, heroes and heroines doing amazing things. Books that I greatly enjoyed reading. But even as I turned each page in anticipation of what was going to happen next, I often found myself wanting. Something seemed to be missing, something that was key: a connection with the characters. So many stories are told through dialogue and description of events as they unfold, while forgetting to add the most important element–what the characters are thinking and feeling. So many times I’ll be reading a book and think, “Wow! That’s so crazy that just happened! But what was so-and-so’s reaction to that? What are they thinking right now?”
So how do you write a story that evokes feeling? How do you draw readers in so that they begin to feel like they know your characters personally, or are standing in the pages of your book, experiencing it right along with them? The best way to achieve this is to constantly be considering what your characters would be thinking and feeling in every situation you place them in.
It isn’t necessary to reveal everything your characters feel. For the most part, however, readers like to know what’s going through the minds of these characters they’ve become invested in. And when they find out, they become that much more attached to said characters, and in effect, the story. It can be done by a simple gesture, a look, a thought that runs quickly through their mind. A brief statement suggesting how they’re feeling. It’s amazing what these little things will do to create a connection between the reader and the character. They begin to care, maybe even relate. Once they become attached to the characters, it brings a whole new dynamic to the story.
Consider this in your writing, as you move from scene to scene, from one situation to the next. Instead of focusing simply on what is happening and where the story is going, think about feeling. What is being felt by your characters, and what your writing will cause your readers to feel. And then you will have the makings of a great story.
Writers: How do you evoke feeling in your writing and help to create a connection with your characters?