Seeking Your Work’s GPS: Exploring Emotional Effects

By finding your themes, you prioritize the elements of your work. You then can design and impliment your scenes more effectively.

Emotional effect can become your work’s GPS when it is a central pattern in your work. It becomes a theme when you repeatedly choose scenes, word choice, and dialogue that evoke or highlight a particular emotional effect in your work. It is theme if a specific reader feeling is why you are writing the piece — especially when the emotional effect takes precedence over deep development of character or plot. Types of books that might have emotional effect as theme include thrillers, inspirationals, and comedies.

Everything should feed into and out of the core emotional effect of your piece.

  • Characters. Let’s look at comedy as an example. In comedy, characters may less than fully developed, potentially lacking a dark side or tragic past (for instance) unless those somehow play into the comedic effect.
  • Character arcs. Let’s look at thrillers as an example. The location matters less than the emphasized details. Even a sunlit day can be made to feel suspenseful or horrific. Be sure that most details evoke emotion in the reader and/or character.
  • Symbols. Let’s look at inspirationals as an example. Symbols may emphasize love, peace, or redemption.

If you choos to try emotional effect as your work’s GPS, it should be an emotion that inspires ideas for you. All the same, emotional effect does not need to be (and probably will not be) the only theme in your work. You may want to have an emotional effect tie into another theme.


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