I really miss being in school sometimes, but there are so many books on writing out there, and reading each one feels like taking a class on the topic. I just got done reading Writing with Emotion, Tension, and Conflict by Cheryl St.John. This book holds so many good tips and ideas for writing, and I just wanted to share a few important things I learned from it.
- Your goal as a writer is to make the reader care. That’s what it all comes down to, because if the reader doesn’t care, she’s not going to keep reading, and she’s definitely not going to pick up your next book. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve put down a book after a few chapters because even though I liked the story idea, I didn’t care what happened to the characters. The reader must be invested in the characters’ lives in order to keep reading.
- You can make the reader care by using conflict, tension, and emotional responses. Throughout the whole book, St.John writes that your characters must have believable motivation in their backstories, because this leads to the conflicts that they face, the tension of each scene, and the emotional responses that the characters have. The reader will care if there is a lot of conflict and a questionable outcome, if the scenes are fast and exciting yet balanced by scenes of reflection, and if the characters have an emotional story.
- Setting is so much more than where your story takes place. St.John explains how setting can make readers care by it helping to create the mood and tone of your story and by helping the reader stay grounded in the reality of the story. Having your characters react to the setting using their specific points of view also makes the reader care because it helps to characterize the people in the story.
This book is an excellent source for any writer, and it helped me learn how I can make readers care about my books.