why writers write

write or read something

I’m not speaking for all authors, of course.

Some authors want to become rich. I’d be happy to make a livable income from the craft.

Some authors want to become famous – not me. I want fame for my work, sure; the characters, certainly, but not for me personally. Few writers are targeted by paparazzi. Still, anonymity suits me best and I’m fairly certain that I’d loathe fame.

Then there’s ego, the gratification of telling a great story that moves people.

The best feedback I get runs along the lines of this quote from an email:

“Lexus Luke! I threw my Kindle across the room when” … the sh!t hits the fan in the last garage scene in Manitou. (edited to remove a spoiler). “How could you do that to Kanaan?

Although I’m sorry for his or her Kindle, I love hearing that a reader stuck with the story to the end, that a reader bonded with the characters and that a reader had an emotional response to both.

I delight in that kind of power, the power to make people feel a story deep down and respond to it.

That’s why I write.

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feelings & attitudes

Art by Bella Harris.

Art by Bella Harris. Click the photo see more of her amazing art.

Storytelling is an art and the best art elicits emotional response in humans.

So, think about the art you’re creating. What emotion do you want to elicit from your readers? When they finish your story, how do you want them to feel? Happy? Hopeful? Inspired? Angry? Curious?

You could write a plot mission statement. Creating one at the beginning of your writing process can serve as a road map when you’re in the thick of the plot and need a bit of guidance. It can remind you where you wanted to go and help steer the story back on course.

The same process can work for major characters. How do you want readers respond to each person in your story? Do you want that response to change as the story unfolds? It’s a good idea, especially for your main character as she deals with the horrors and conflicts you throw at her.

I have a story in the wings that can be told in a scary, spooky way; it can also be a thriller; and as I work through another potential plot, I can easily see a humorous, touching side. Which direction will I take? I haven’t decided yet. I don’t know what I want readers to feel.

That story will percolate while I write another that I’m positive where I want my readers to end up emotionally. (I’m taking a hiatus from the Sky People Saga. Sorry, fans.) My current project is definitely a plot with purpose.

This method of building in an ultimate reaction to a story sounds a bit bizarre, I know, but it’s just one technique authors can use.

Like fingerprints are unique to each finger on a human being, so are stories and how those stories take shape. Even stories by the same author can be born in different ways.

Are you a writer? Please share your thoughts on emotions in art in the comments below.

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