Jeremiah is often referred to as the weeping prophet. He had such deep feelings for the people he prophesied to that he was driven to tears.
Can we cause our readers to feel for our characters and their predicaments? How do we conjure the needed feelings inside of ourselves to write in this compelling way? Here are a couple of suggestions.
Allow the reader to feel the character’s emotions right along with the character. How? Don’t tell the emotion by naming it. Show by giving the character’s reactions.
For example: A sad character might ache and crumple in a heap on the floor with tears flowing uncontrollably. Doesn’t that make you feel the sadness more than just saying the character was sad?
Create relatable circumstances. One way to do this is to pull from your own experiences.
For example: From my own experience, I can express the heartache of infertility. And yet, I can’t fully express the loss of a spouse since I have never faced that situation.
Channel your experiences through your characters and they will become more real and alive.
In your work in progress, search for emotion words like sad, angry, disappointed, happy, excited. Put yourself in your character’s place at the moment that feeling occurs. Now, describe the feeling without using the actual emotion word. Would this make for a stronger connection with the reader?
Now, make a list of experiences from your own life. Have you or a close loved one had a serious disease? Have you experienced a car accident? Have you gone through divorce, adoption, or homelessness? Study your list of experiences. Could that experience or the feelings during it be used to help make your character’s emotions more real?
One way to use this is to pinpoint a certain experience from your life and write a description of it from your viewpoint, including all of your feelings. Reread this description. Does it resemble a situation or emotion your character is experiencing? Use that to rewrite the description as a scene involving your character. Would this scene connect the reader with your character?
Do you have other Christian writers you know? Being a writer isn’t the only aspect of an author’s life. Everyone has other things going on their lives. Have you ever considered that writer might need some compassion? Have you thought about asking the other writer if you can pray specifically for her or him? Who can better understand the struggles of a Christian writer than another Christian writer?