It’s obvious that the best books are those that make you, as a reader, feel something. The amount of emotion which you can generate in your story is the key to whether it’s compelling or not. Some authors are incredible at taking a reader on an emotional roller coaster resulting in a climax to the protagonist that is both unexpected and real.
When you read a book, you invest a lot of time in to that story and those characters. You don’t want to read a report of the events as if you were in court, you want to feel it as if it’s really happening. You want to experience it along with the characters and escape from reality as much as possible.
Storytellers have been around for thousands of years and the reason why they have always been so revered is because they have the ability to take someone on a virtual journey. Tastes and styles, even the type of media, are all subjective but the one thing that all great stories must have is the ability to connect to you at a human level.
We are all the same underneath and we communicate, bond, come together by sharing emotions. If an author can create a story that manipulates the reader into feeling what they’re supposed to feel, then the journey will appear even more real.
There’s actually some science behind all of this. Recently various institutions have carried out tests with MRI scanners where they have observed how the human mind functions when actually experiencing a task as opposed to just reading about the same task. For example, if someone was actually knitting then they would use all of their senses to pull in data to form their perception of that physical experience. The sound of the needles clicking, the feel of the wool running over the back of the hand, a significant smell of the hot chocolate that sits beside you. Whatever it is, these senses create the experience that is then registered in your mind.
Interestingly, when the subject reads in great detail about the same experience the same areas of the brain light up. So, the touch of the wool appears real to the mind even if you only read about it, the same with the smell of hot chocolate and the sound of the clicking. The human mind appears to not differentiate the way that it stores the physical experience versus the virtual one.
Readers are more emotionally mature
Following on from these experiments, it has been evidenced that people who read a large amount of fiction, and are therefore subjected to an array of differing emotions, are more capable of dealing with these emotions when they are presented to them in real life. The human mind has almost been prepared for these eventualities up front and can deal with them when the time comes.
The Art of Storytelling
So storytelling is a natural part of life and some of us are naturally better at it than others. Creating a story which will be able to entertain, enrich and develop a reader is no mean feat but the best of them are those which pull out the emotions. A good storyteller feels the characters as he’s presenting the story, enabling him to pass on the emotions, and so should a writer feel his characters before he writes them down.
How do you write an emotional scene, and do you ever feel that emotion within yourself?