The Role of Emotion in Writing: 5 Tips to Make Your Readers Feel

emotional reading a book

In our modern world of distraction and disconnection, writing with genuine emotion helps readers relate to your content. Plus, writing is an excellent way to release pent-up feelings.

Read on to discover five emotion-fuelling tips for your writing!


Tip 1 – Journal

Journaling is a super-charged tool for understanding your emotions and releasing them constructively.

The journaling process can help you uncover the roots of your emotions, understand how they develop and recognise your responses to them. It also encourages reflection on how your emotional reactions affect others.

Armed with this insight, you can more effectively infuse your writing with emotion, and your readers will be more likely to feel what you intend.

Tip 2 – Dig deep

William Wordsworth said, ‘Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.’

To write with authentic emotion, it’s vital to understand how emotions surface from the heart – and yes, that means both positive and negative ones.

How do you react when a strong emotion rises? Dig deep into your emotional patterns and explore that unique tapestry. Perhaps discuss what you find with a friend or therapist to further deepen your self-perception.

Applying what you learn to your writing will make it more relatable; your readers will feel the raw, self-sourced emotion in your words.

Discover more:

6 Ways to Infuse Your Writing With Emotion

How to Show Emotion in Writing and Make Readers Feel It

How to Write Emotion

Tip 3 – Draw on your personal experiences

Everyone has many life experiences, from happy and triumphant moments to sad ones and everything in between. These experiences provide a solid foundation for writing with emotion.

Readers connect more deeply with emotions written from authentic first-hand experiences. The writing doesn’t necessarily need to be about the experience itself; it can simply draw on those feelings to present a new story.

For instance, if you’re writing about separating from a long-term relationship, it could be necessary to revisit the past and feel those emotions again. This will be difficult to do, but doing so will enable you to write about the experience laced with genuine feelings.

Read more:

Three Challenges of Writing a Human-Interest Story About Your Own Life

Emotions in Writing: How to Make Your Readers Feel

The Best Writing Tip I’ve Ever Received: Keep It Real

Tip 4 – Be deliberate with your word choice

Once you’ve worked to understand your emotions, it’s essential to think carefully about the words you will choose to express them.

As Mark Twain wrote, ‘The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.’

Consider the meaning of the words you choose and their connotations, and ensure both align with the emotional response you want to evoke.

The English language is rich in synonyms. As you write, try to use the words best suited to the specific emotion you’re describing.

For example, you could use a broad term like happiness to describe the feeling of enjoying a fulfilling conversation with a friend. But a more nuanced word like jubilation or joy might convey your intended feeling more accurately.

Tip 5 – Tap into your emotions to develop fictional characters

The tips in this list don’t only apply to non-fiction, such as feature writing and memoirs; they’re also invaluable for character development in fiction writing. Emotion is what brings characters to life and makes them feel real.

Next time you craft a new character, imagine you’re a mad scientist like Dr Frankenstein, creating life from nothing. Be bold and take your time.

Consider your character’s strengths, weaknesses, fears, flaws, desires, dreams and motivations. Where and how did they grow up? What influenced them? How do they experience and react to various emotions?

A well-thought-out and developed character allows readers to empathise and lose themselves in the story.

Learn more:

How to Use the Wheel of Emotions to Write Better Fictional Characters

Emotions in Writing: The Author’s Guide to Stirring Up Big Feels

Here’s a quick recap:

  • First, journal to understand your emotions, allowing you to write more relatable descriptions.
  • Dig deep into your emotions to observe how they surface – describe this process for your readers.
  • Draw on your experiences to bring emotions to life – your readers will connect better with your writing and feel it more deeply.
  • Use words that align with the emotions you want your readers to feel – be conscious of meanings, connotations and synonyms.
  • When writing fiction, spend time developing multi-layered characters – this will make their feelings and behaviours more relatable to your readers.

Now, go forth and conquer writing with emotion!

About the Author

Andrew Baird

Andrew Baird is a freelance writer living in Wellington and is also a team leader at an engineering consultancy working on projects in the electricity sector. When Andrew isn’t writing or engineering, you’ll most likely find him exploring the outdoors, a new place, or connecting with his friends and family. Andrew also advocates for a balanced life that is kind to others and our one planet.



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