How Emotional Peril Keeps Readers Reading

This post by Janice Hardy originally appeared on the Writers in the Storm blog on 6/20/14.

Before I dive in, I’d like to say congrats and cheers to everyone at WITS on their new home! It’s hard to improve something so good, but they managed to do it. Kudos, Stormies! And thanks for letting me stop by to help you celebrate.

Okay, on to the writing tips…

When you pick up a novel, what keeps you reading?

The desire to see what happens next? The fear that something horrible will happen to your favorite character? The need to see it all turn out for the best? The need to know what happens next or what it all means? Maybe all of these at different times in the book.

No matter what hooks a reader about a book, she’s made an emotional connection. She cares, and doesn’t want to see the characters get hurt. But the wonderful things is, once you’ve made that emotional connection, “hurt” takes on a much broader definition. The emotional peril the character faces becomes just as important as physical peril. Probably more so, because readers know a major character isn’t likely to die, so they don’t worry as much about the outcome (unless it’s Game of Thrones, then all bets are off).

But you can destroy a character emotionally without physically hurting her. She can survive, yet never be the same. (and if you’re giggling in glee over the very thought, you’re my kind of writer)


Click here to read the full post on the Writers in the Storm blog.