Writing for Emotion: Story Concept

It is the primal attachment to the concept that makes the movie work or not” – George Lucas


If a book (or movie script, poem, or any other written work) does not connect with a reader’s emotions, the piece most often flops. Sadly, when a writer shares their idea, there is not time to delve into every moment of the reader’s roller coaster ride. That means you need to make those first emotional connections through your concept – something you should be able to share quickly with a reader or listener.

This isn’t an article about all that goes into crafting a concept but some elements are very closely tied to reader emotions – and if you miss the reader’s emotions, you miss the reader. The reader (and maybe you) will know that you’ve done it right when they have a physical, mental, and affective response to your concept.

  • An appealing hook can be generated many different ways. Often, it is an usual twist or addition to an otherwise familiar situation. Some emotions you want to evoke are: interest, excitement, curiosity, anticipation  
  • A story concept probably will touch on universal human emotions in your characters such as redemption, revenge, longing for love, or wishing for change. By introducing universal emotions in your concept, your can hope to evoke in the reader: empathy and anticipation.
  • A story concept needs conflict. The more gripping the stakes, the greater the emotional effect on the reader. “Gripping stakes” do not have to be death of the character or a planet. I’d suggest that if you set your stakes right, then the negative outcome might seem worse then a simple physical end. Some emotions you are targeting in the reader of your concept are: anticipation, excitement, maybe even uncertainty (if there seems no good outcome).

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