History That Never Was

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Feeling All the Feelings

In writing, evoking feelings is one of the best ways to get your stories to have emotional resonance with the reader. But how do you accomplish this?

If the feeling or emotion you’re trying to evoke is one that you’ve felt, try to recall some of the concrete details that made you feel, and give those sensory details, using as many senses as you can, to your characters.

If the feeling or emotion is one you haven’t personally experienced (such as extreme terror or murderous rage), you may need to consume some media that features characters experiencing those emotions and see what you can extract from their experiences. Some might suggest that you need to feel those emotions in order to write them well, but I don’t recommend that people seek out extreme negative emotions personally just to be able to write them. You can generally get away with a few evocative words and sensations.

As an exercise for working on evoking emotions with your writing, try writing a scene or short conversation in which someone is feeling a strong emotion but can’t express it verbally or physically (either of these options will give you interesting results). You can also try writing in a genre that expects a certain emotional resonance but using a different resonance instead. Can you write horror without terror or dread? What about deep longing in a horror story? Play around with different emotions and different genres, and see what you can come up with!

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