Monday, April 24, 2006

Emotional Response

The purpose of fiction is to evoke emotion. Readers want to laugh, cry, mourn, rejoice, wet their pants. If you consider your favorite fiction novel surely it does one of the above. Non-fiction must relay information. Fiction must stir an emotional response.

I could say more, but I'll refer to someone who says it better. Here is a quote by Gene Olson, author of Sweet Agony: A Writing Manual of Sorts.

“Writing is thinking on paper but that’s only Phase I. Phase II is a transfer process; the information on the paper must register in the mind of the reader. Most writing, like in a daily newspaper, never gets beyond Phase II.

"The best writing advances to Phase III—emotion. This polished product succeeds not because of its informational content but because it transmits feeling. It causes readers to laugh or cry or curse.

“A reader wants to respond emotionally. Feeling is an important girder in the bridge the writer must build between his own mind and that of the reader. If a writer fails to stir emotion, he is likely to bore his reader and then even the information load is likely to sink out of sight.

“A reader demands to be stirred, not just informed."

When readers tell me my novels made them laugh or cry I always ask about the specific parts. Then I nod my head in agreement—for those are the parts that made me laugh or cry as I wrote them.


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