E – Engaging Emotions

Today, we have a co-authored post! Anaiah author, Penelope Powell, and Anaiah Press’s Editorial Director, Kara Leigh Miller, team up to talk about writing engaging emotions.


A story without emotion is lifeless, dull and flat.

Creating a story that will keep the readers turning to the next page can be difficult, but the best stories evoke empathy, engage readers with the ever-evolving lives of the story’s characters until they reach an epiphany, or an epic event occurs that eradicates their problems. Good fiction can offer encouragement, elevate one’s perspective, or erase misconceptions on a subject.

Enough with the E’s!

All kidding aside, the best stories make us feel. Be it tears, or laughter, or fear, or joy, a story that brings a reader to any point of emotion during a character’s journey, will stay with them for far longer than the end of that journey, or when they close the book. It may not be true in life, but in fiction, emotions rule.

So, how do you write emotion that will move readers to the point that they feel everything your character is feeling? By engaging the five senses! Yes, it’s that simple. Oh, and that whole show don’t tell thing, too. Emotions tend to be very powerful and they evoke very strong visceral reactions, which translates well to physical actions.

Let’s take a look at an example…

I walked into the room and what I saw scared me.

In this example, we’re being told the emotion the character is feeling: fear. It’s concise, but unengaging. To make this resonate with readers, show his/her physical reaction to this emotion. Think about the last time you were scared—how did you feel?

I walked into the room and froze, my eyes widening. My heart raced, and the hairs on the back of my neck stood on edge. The color drained from my face, leaving me cold. I shivered as a scream built in my throat, erupting in a deafening shriek.

In this rewrite, we’re using physical reactions to show fear. It’s much more engaging and really punches the reader in the gut, allowing them to be fully immersed in the story and the characters. An invaluable resource for conveying emotion (without constantly repeating the same things) is The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.

What are your tips and tricks to convey emotion?




I live in Indiana, but I am completely Southern. My roots are buried deep in the hills of Middle Tennessee. That said, I’ve lived in many places here and abroad. Because of that I’ve been exposed to various cultures and my perspective has widened a bit.

Since I have degrees in Political Science and Multinational Commerce, I can’t explain how I ended up writing Christian Romance, except for God.

Like the things we experience, I believe good fiction can inspire and change someone’s perspective. It’s my prayer that my words will show others a Savior who loves them.

You can follow me on my website, Twitter, and Facebook



Kara combines her knowledge and prior editing experience with a passion for the written word and a love of all things romance. She is a multi-genre published author, and an avid reader with eclectic tastes that range from the tame to the taboo. She loves to help her fellow authors recognize their dreams of publication and is very excited about working toward that goal with Anaiah Press. You can follow Kara on her website and Twitter.


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