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.