Raising the Stakes with Emotion


Generally speaking I’m not an emotional guy. However, when the right sequence of experiences hit me, I’m a basket case. Certain movies, songs, and certainly my kids and grandkids can move me deeply. So can authors and their books.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this. We all are deeply moved through profoundly effective experiences. Yes, they engage our minds and inform us, but these experiences go deeper—they eventually touch the heart and linger there.

All people are driven by a collection of human needs—belonging, happiness, and security to name a few. Here’s the point we writers need to understand—legendary authors and their books create experiences that capitalize on these motives. They take emotion and dial it up. They give us a reader experience that truly impacts us and may even change us. This can be true for fiction and non-fiction writers.

I recently finished Cards on the Table by one of my all-time favorite authors, Agatha Christie. In the book, featuring detective Hercule Poirot and his legendary “gray cells,” Christie weaves a tale of intrigue and (I don’t want to spoil it) a nifty plot idea—4 crooks being investigated by 4 detective types. I was convinced I had the murder figured out, and then with less than a few pages to go she turned the tables brilliantly. It blew me away. My emotions were going one way and she snapped them back to a totally different direction. She invoked surprise and touched me with her ability to create a truly rewarding reader experience.

Countless non-fiction books have given me a similar affective reader experience. Two recent personal reads come to mind: Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray and Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall. Both books provided an incredible reading experience that deeply touched my heart. They instructed and, hopefully, created change in me.

It is my feeling that all writers should remember to emotionally reach out to their readers. Their readers will reward them when they seek to affect them deeply. Readers have loyalty to give and authors can literally own that loyalty when they create emotion-based reader experience.


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Trust is the winsome wedding of faith and hope.

Brennan Manning

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