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8 ways to emotionally engage your story

Why do we get goosebumps?

By Eva RtologyPublished about a year ago 4 min read

Real content is that stuff that makes people feel what the writer is trying to convey. If an article cannot make you shed tears, create a smile, a frown, hurt your heart and make you feel like punching someone’s lights out for saying bad things about something you love. If an article does not give you goosebumps and make your scalp tingle in emotional experience then it is not “real content” but by definition, it is just a machine-generated copy of human code words.

How to Make Your Writing More Emotionally Engaging (8 Ways)

1. Turn the story around to focus on the character, experience, or situation rather than what happened. This is your first order of business: putting the story’s “inner” nature at the center of every sentence. Think about the emotional journey that each character goes through. Is this journey written in a way that will cause the reader to make choices and react to these choices? Is it clear how those choices lead to personal change? (for example, as I said above, you can have an active protagonist who has his/her life changed by something truly dramatic)

2. Use the first person (I, We, you) and second person (You) to improve the reader’s identification with the subject matter and increase empathy. Write with the readers’ voice at the center of every sentence. Why? Because if you’re writing about a character, you need to show rather than tell how that character feels. If you’re writing about something that happened, you can often use “I” (you) instead of “he” or “she.”

3. Come up with an emotional theme for the piece before you write. Think about what is the heart of your story and expressing it as clearly as possible through each line. This does not mean sugarcoating, but it does mean coming up with a universal truth that everyone can recognize and relate to.

How an Emotional Theme Works

First, the reader is put in the place of the character they’re supposed to empathize with — they see different characters from a first-person perspective and identify with them on a basic level.

Second, the reader feels motivated to take action on this theme (and often, therefore, reads more quickly as well).

4. Use simple language and short sentences to keep people engaged; do not force your readers to sift through complex ideas and long sentences. When you feel like you’re writing with too much information, always ask yourself: “Is the reader sufficiently motivated to read this?” This is where your focus should be. Manipulate words and sentences, but do not manipulate the reader’s motivation.

5. Provide concrete examples using specific words and phrases instead of vague generalities as doing so will help you make your writing more emotionally engaging. The more specific your examples, the more emotional impact your story will have upon the reader. (for example, “The ticket office was closed. The rain had been coming down, and he was soaked. He tried the door, but it was locked. He tried to call the train office for information on how to get a ticket, but there was no answer.” is more emotionally powerful than “The ticket office was closed on Saturday nights after the last train.”)

6. Use more active rather than passive voice and underline the verbs you want to be heard. Modern writing uses passive voice too much — it starts with a “he said,” “she said” and in the next 15 words, explains what was said. Passives are there for one reason only: to explain the action (to add more information). If you need to, go back and find the true subject and make your sentence start with that person (“she said…”) then just put all of the information after that. (for example, “He was taking a walk. The rain was pouring down. He came to a glass door and opened it. He went in, closed the door behind him and tried to get warm.”)

7. Use the question and answer format to create more engagement as this style of writing helps people identify with the characters. It’s a good idea to start with the answer, then end with the question. This will make your writing more emotionally engaging. (for example, “Why did you get kicked out of the festival?” “Because I dumped my beer on someone’s head. I was going to tell him he had a huge cactus on his head, but it tasted too good and I didn’t.”)

8. Use humor as appropriate. Humor is one of the most powerful ways to make an audience laugh or cry, so use it when appropriate and make sure you use it correctly.

For example: How many logicians does it take to screw in a light bulb? One. It doesn’t matter if it’s true, just as long as it makes sense.

Why do we love AI content? Because it challenges and even changes our perspectives.

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About the Creator

Eva Rtology

Art Curator, founder at

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