Kate Allan

The online diary of Kate Allan, author

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Writing with the senses - 2

The sixth sense, and why you must use it.

We've seen the five senses and how these can stimulate the reader's imagination experience to create the reading experience. So can the sixth sense:


The reader wants to care about your characters, share their ups and downs and feel emotionally connected with them. If they don’t your story will be flat and forgettable. This applies even in plot driven stories.

When the reader opens your book they are like a lost duckling. They will try and connect with every character they meet on the page. They are not looking necesarily to like every character, but they want to meet characters they can empathise with and understand. You can create this by letting the reader share your characters' emotions. The reader may have never been in a character's exact situation, but human experience is such that they will have felt emotions similar to those the character is feeling. The sharing of emotions bonds readers to characters.

Editors in publishing houses are looking for emotion in the fiction they buy:

‘I want to see manuscripts that make me laugh and make me cry. If they don’t, I’m afraid it’s unlikely they will make it beyond the first read, no matter how great the story is, no matter how enthusiastic the agent was about selling it to me over a great lunch.’ (Editorial Director at major UK mainstream publisher, speaking at a writers' conference in 2004)

Tomorrow: Techniques for writing emotion


  • At 8:37 pm, Blogger Alex Bordessa said…

    Thanks for putting these gems up :-) Unfortunately my writing group doesn't do the sort of workshops you teach, but it's the AGM next week and I might suggest they think about it!

    As for putting emotion in: I've read too many published books where I start to skim at a very early stage. Something doesn't capture me, and I reckon it's the lack of what you're describing here.


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