I learned how important the emotional connection was in communicating with an audience when I was giving inspirational talks at a local Unitarian Universalist church I used to belong to. A minister told me all about touching head and heart in every sermon to give folks “something to take home with them.”
This philosophy also applies to writing, whether fiction or non-fiction, in my opinion, especially if you want your reader to be inspired into some change in themselves or action in the world.
It’s also one of the things I look for when I’m doing manuscript evaluations. When I see really cool, intelligent people focusing too much on telling us what they know without sharing how they or their characters feel, the story gets “dry” really quickly and it’s easy to lose interest. Emotional connections are so much deeper and more long-lasting than purely intellectual/informational ones.
Even if your primary motive for writing is informational and not necessarily inspirational or fictional storytelling, I think it’s still important to include some connection to emotion (well, maybe not if you are explaining accounting regulations…).
Ask yourself why you are imparting your information: is it to change a person’s viewpoint on something, help them find a new emotional place to be, identify with a character in a story, or take some social or political action? Then look in your non-fiction piece or your fictional story and find the place where emotion is shared or added to a rational presentation. That’s where the impact will be. Your reader will remember the rational bit better if they have some appropriate emotion invested in it.
I’ve experienced this so many times with good stories, both fiction and non-fiction, since I started really loving reading in about 1964. So, if you want to succeed as a writer, don’t forget to touch my heart.
From the Shepherd’s Satchel
Louise Harnby, my favorite proofreader (because she shares all kinds of wisdom regularly with all of us), recently summarized her lessons learned from 2016. Always a good value. Check it out here.
Katherine O’Moore-Klopf is both a great editor and a wonderful support for other editors on Twitter and in the copyediting-l email list (yes, these discussion list still go on and still work!). She just re-shared a really nice post on her editing process (detailed and very informative) from this past April. Check it out here.