I hadn’t planned on writing this post today. Not until I finished my latest short story and shared it with my sister. She reads everything I write, even the not so good things. I love sharing my stories with her because she reads. A lot. I’m talking about a book a day. She mostly reads romance (of all varieties), fantasy, and some horror. I value her opinion because of her avid reading habits. Plus, she brings a different perspective since she reads primarily romance books. I’ve come to appreciate her thoughts more and more.
Yesterday afternoon I finished THROUGH MOURNING, what I describe as a haunting tale of love, loss, and letting go set during the zombie apocalypse…with a twist. I printed it and brought it to her. This morning she told me what she thought. I’ll give you the abbreviated version. “I like it,” she said. “You even brought a tear to my eye.”
She went on to say how this was her second favorite story of mine and how she connected with the main character. Her favorite story remains LABOR OF LOVE, another zombie story. What can I say? Zombies give me the feels. Anyway, both stories got an emotional response from her. LABOR OF LOVE got her giggling while THROUGH MOURNING brought a tear to her eye.
Honestly, I went for the tears with THROUGH MOURNING. I became my character, in that place, that situation. I wanted to tug on reader’s heartstrings. However, I wasn’t sure how well I tugged on those heartstrings until someone else read it. Will everyone react the same way? There’s no way for me to know. All I could do as a writer was commit, fully, to the scene and trust my vision.
It’s one thing to want to do something. As writers we must let go of everything–all the daily baggage, whatever clouds our minds–and allow ourselves the freedom to create. No boundaries. No limits. Go big or go home.
Can we do this all the time? I don’t think so. The emotional punch will lose some of its oomph if we’re constantly shoving it down reader’s throats. Knowing when to unleash the emotional punch is just as important as how we do it. But when we do unleash the power of the emotional punch, we must go all in. Hold nothing back.
The next time you’re writing and find yourself wondering how much to give, ignore those thoughts. Give it everything you’ve got. Lead your readers confidently where you want them to go. Trust your instincts. Nine times out of ten they’ll lead you down the right path.
Don’t just write characters, bring them to life. Doesn’t matter what genre. There’s no better connection than the human one.