I’ve said before that every story should have an emotional payoff. Yet far too often, I read stories where the payoff is weaker than it should be, or it isn’t there at all.
If you’re writing genre literature—romance, horror, wonder, comedy, thrillers, and so on—then your readers are paying you to arouse an emotional state, and as an author, you’ll succeed based on how well you succeed at creating those emotions.
The problem sometimes is that as authors, we don’t want to be accused of being maudlin or sentimental in our writing. We’ve all read stories where the author tries too hard to get an emotional reaction, and so we back away from powerful material in an effort to show our own restraint.
In other cases, we just let opportunities pass us by.
So here is a little tip for the day. Let’s say that you want to create a powerful emotional climax. Imagine, for example, that you’re writing a romance. Your protagonist has fallen deeply in love with a man, and she’s nearly lost him to another woman. Now, you want to heighten that love: so when he comes back, we find that not only has he returned, he has made some significant change to his life so that she loves him more than ever. You’ve just upped the romance, and he tops it off by begging your protagonist’s hand in marriage. She says “Yes,” and then what happens?
Well, all kinds of things could happen. Too often, that’s the end of the story. But don’t you want to hold that emotion for a bit? Don’t you want to drag out the romance? After all, your reader may have spent ten hours reaching that climax. Don’t you want to give them ten minutes?
So how long is ten minutes? Well, in a book, you’ve got about 250 – 300 words per page, and the average reader happens to read about 300 words per minute. So you as a writer don’t want to stop with your heroine saying “Yes.” You want to draw out those emotional beats for a good ten pages or more.
So you look at ways to heighten the romance near the end. We spend extra time with lingering touches. We have long conversations where perhaps our love interest explains why he held back and realizes now that he was “Oh so wrong.” We confirm to the reader through detail after detail that the love is real. We show their growing love in a hundred different ways.
You don’t have to be simplistic about it. You can create duality. You can have love tinged with regret. You can show love ripening with age. You can add humor and pain and even fear to it all. In other words, it doesn’t have to be simplistic or maudlin, but you do have to give your reader time to remain emotionally engaged. With luck, the emotional payoff will remain with the reader long after he or she has closed the book.
Live Writing Workshops
Fyrecon Master Class
Explore the writing process step-by-step over three days (four hours each day) and see exactly how it is done. Each hour we’ll cover a new step toward completion and beyond.
Hour 1–Brainstorming, “1001 Ideas in an Hour”
Hour 2–Brainstorming Settings
Hour 3–Create Your Characters
Hour 4–Weaving the Plot
Hour 5–Focus on Writing (Cleaning your palette, creating a writing space, focus)
Hour 6–Drafting Your Opening/Hooking Your Reader
Hour 7–Enchanting Your Reader Image by Image
Hour 8–Adding Complications
Hour 9–Powerful Endings
Hour 10–Editing to Greatness/Working with Editors
Hour 11–Sending it Out, Dealing With Editors and Agents
Hour 12–How to Make a Living as a Writer
12 Hour Master class $239
(includes general admission)
Class is limited to 30 students
Thursday, June 21st, 9am – 1pm
Friday, June 22nd, 9am – 1pm
Saturday, June 23rd, 9am – 1pm
Register or learn more here.
Quick Start Your Writing Career
Please join David for his new workshop, Quick Start Your Writing Career, held on June 30, 2018 at the the Provo Marriott Hotel and Conference Center at 101 W. 100 North, Provo, Utah 84601 USA. Ph. +1 801-377-4700.
The workshop will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a one-hour break for lunch. There are numerous restaurants near the hotel.
The workshop costs $99 for the day and lunch is not included. There is space for 80 attendees.
Dave will speak about the following subjects:
- Breaking onto the Bestseller Lists
- How to Get Discovered
- Defining Yourself As an Author
- Plotting Your Career
- Going Indie vs. Traditional Publishing
- Multimedia–Your Most Indispensable Asset
- How to Reach a Vast Audience
- Dealing with Agents, Editors, and Movie Producers.