A Quick Rant about Stories and Emotions
24 November 2013
I need to let my editor voice rant for a bit. I heard from someone I care deeply about that someone told them not to read anything that could provoke an emotional response.
No emotional response? Seriously? One of the most important things a story can do is provoke an emotional response. Whether you’re reading fiction or someone’s biography, the emotions you feel as you read are one of the greatest things you can hope for, both as a reader and a writer.
If I write an epic tale of war ravaging a galaxy, I want you to feel emotions about it. If I tell you an intimate tale of two lovers, I want you to feel emotions. Heck, if I write copy for an advertisement, I want you to feel emotions.
Emotions are what connect us to characters. It’s one of the tools an author has in their toolbox. If I can get you to feel something (whether it’s joy, hatred, or a mix of the two), I’ve done my job. As an editor, if I can get the author to think about what kind of emotions they’re trying to provoke, I’ve done (part of) my job.
If you’re a reader, and you’re not processing your emotions, then I’d say you’re not reading deeply enough. Think about the best stories you’ve read. What makes them great? I’d wager a large part of your fondness is based on either the emotions you felt as you turned the pages, or the emotions that you now feel either from the story itself or the memories surrounding the story.
With all due respect to the learned individual that told my significant other this unconscionable half-truth, you can stick this particular piece of advice in a very dark place and never utter it again.