Sunday, June 30, 2019

How to Avoid Clichéd Emotional Responses In Your Writing

From Anne R. Allen:
Clichés in writing are frowned upon because they’re easy; they’re the sign of a writer who chooses to go with the first idea that comes to mind rather than digging deeper to find the exact phrase to suit the character and scene. They don’t contribute to a unique authorial voice or say anything about who the character is as an individual. Clichéd emotional responses are particularly yawn-worthy because they literally could apply to anyone. 
Readers come to each story with different purposes—to be entertained, informed, or to escape the real world, just to name a few. But regardless of why they open up a book, they all have something in common: readers all want to be engaged, to lose themselves in the story world. And the best way to make that happen is to get them feeling as they’re reading. 
Consider the stories you’ve read that were thoroughly engrossing, that you couldn’t put down. My bet is that your emotions were engaged along with the character’s. When she was in danger, your own heartbeat increased. When she experienced insecurity, you felt that twinge of uncertainty in your gut. Your spirits lightened just a bit at the moment of revelation, when she finally recognized the changes she had to make to achieve her goal. 
When our character’s feelings are clear and logical, they trigger the reader’s emotions, making it harder for them to put the book down. Character emotion is, in my opinion, the most effective and longest lasting hook in our bag of tricks, so it’s imperative that we get it right in our stories. And clichés that we’ve seen a million times or overuse in our own writing just don’t get the job done. (Read more.)

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