We all love a book that leaves us emotionally moved in some way. Whether it’s happy, sad, haunted, horrified, relieved . . . What makes the difference is the emotional connection we form with the story.
Reflect on personal experience
While it’s obvious that romance stories come from our imagination, our own daily lives tend to influence and color our characters and the situations they find themselves in. This is particularly important when it comes to describing emotional moments.
The best way to write authentic emotion is to recall times when you’ve experienced strong emotion. You may not have been through the exact experience that you’re writing for your character (and given the average romance heroine’s back story, thank goodness for that!), but you’ve certainly in your life experienced joy, grief, sorrow, pain, pleasure, and more.
Take a moment to think back to one of these times. What was it like? What was the reaction in your body: did your stomach hurt, your fingers tingle, your pulse race?
At last year’s Romance Writers of Australia conference, keynote speaker Eloisa James said: “Best sellers are born of strong emotion.”She then went on to talk about her experiences of motherhood (and daughterhood) and how they had been poured into the books she was writing at the time.
Use times in your life that were particularly difficult or wonderful as your key source material.
Make the most of the setting
There’s a reason most of my latest SuperRomance, In His Eyes, takes place during winter. It’s cold, and stormy, and my heroine Zoe is often lying alone, listening to the wind howl through the gaps in the roof. It all goes to adding a sense of the chill of loneliness that has been following her through her life.
The Waterford property she has inherited is in complete disrepair and yet the next door property (and home to the hero, her ex-lover Hugh) has never looked better. In comparison, Hugh has a life filled with people and activity – his winery now even boasts a restaurant with huge windows to take in the view.
What can you do to increase the sense of place in your story? Think about things like weather, environment, buildings, other characters, pets and how they can tie in to your central character’s emotional journey.
Don’t be too obvious
Having said the above, it’s important that these details feel natural and not overdone. If a reader notices that you make it rain when someone feels sad, they can roll their eyes instead of dabbing them with a tissue.
Subtly-layered details add atmosphere and create a wonderfully emotional read.
Feel it with them
As you’re writing, you want to be feeling the emotions you’re writing about. That’s not to say you should be sobbing your heart out every time your characters are put in a perilous situation. But if your writing doesn’t make you feel sad/happy, then odds are it’s not going to make anyone else feel sad/happy either.
Don’t set out deliberately to try to make readers cry. You’ll end up using clichés and tired expressions that won’t be effective. Set out to make yourself cry. Then, rather than guessing at what might push someone else’s emotional buttons, you’ll be sure that your writing will be authentic – and much more likely to provoke a reaction.
Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Just-for-Today-Emmie-Dark/9780373718597