Do You Write With Feeling?

It almost goes without saying that every person uses themselves as a yardstick to figure out what another person is feeling.

This includes readers for your characters in a novel. No matter the situation or genre of your novel or short-story fiction, your reader will try to fill in the blanks about fictional characters based upon their own life experiences.

As a writer, you can aid this process by adding sensory detail. No amount of fancy plot tactics can compete with your reader’s brain to create empathy for your characters.

When your readers empathize, they put themselves in the character’s shoes. Once they’ve done that, readers will follow your character through any obstacle, hardship, or conflict because, if you’ve done it right, they are in the story, they are your character.

The elements you need should be fundamental and unalterable to your character. They have to feel authentic. Tacked-on frailties just don’t work. Choose very carefully and build-in the crucial elements from the start.

Remember those compare-and-contrast school assignments?
Give your character a seemingly inescapable social, political, or economic disadvantage. Readers want to see the character overcome those obstacles.

Context is how you use comparison in your story. Compare your hero’s strengths to those of other characters. Hopefully, your reader will have been admiring your hero’s skills and strengths.

When those are put to the test by someone bigger, smarter, or more adept, your reader feels the difference.

The structure of almost every story includes an element of vulnerability. Sometimes everything is tilted to make your hero’s strength a vulnerability. You shed new light on your character, and your reader reacts.

The reason is reader empathy.

This technique is so powerful, you only need to do it once. You don’t need to overdo vulnerability, one instance in your story is all it takes. Every reader is human. The key is to make the reader make the connection to your hero’s emotional frailty. When they see vulnerability in your hero, it strengthens the connection.

This works in any genre. The way a reader comes to know your character is similar to the way we come to know people in real life. Create a vulnerability in your character, then use it at the appropriate plot point to keep your reader engaged.

Weave your hero’s vulnerabilities into the story. Use your plot to find the high points where frailties will have the most impact. Those vulnerabilities in the middle of the story keep readers engaged with your protagonist as you move the story toward the ultimate conclusion.

Give it a try, and you’ll keep your readers to the end of the story.


Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

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You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show, or see my three local television interviews. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.


Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

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8 Responses to “Do You Write With Feeling?”

  1. Grace Grogan Says:

    I think this is the reason I haven’t gotten back into working on my book. It is memoir of my grandchildren going to CPS, our battle trying to be allowed to foster them, getting denied, and trying to adopt and getting denied. They were adopted out to strangers. The emotion is personal, and that means I have to let myself out, which is not always easy to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bob Wonnacott Says:

    Very interesting post. It certainly gives me something to work on. It sounds like this conflict or vulnerability must be decided in the early stages of outlining my novel, so I can weave it into the story at the correct time. Thank you, also, for the information relayed to Barbara. I will use this for further study. I always learn from your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Barbara Rebbeck Says:

    Good advice. Could you point us to authors who excel in the techniques you recommend?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron Herron Says:

      Barbara – There are a lot. J.D. Salinger, with his character Holden Caulfield, in “Catcher in the Rye” — Erin Wilson, with her character Rachel Watson, in “The Girl on the Train” — Joseph Heller, with his character John Yossarian, in “Catch-22”

      Also (whether you enjoy their stories or not), Stephen King and Ray Bradbury.

      Good question. Thanks for asking.

      Liked by 1 person

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