Laurie Halse Anderson said, “Write about the emotions you fear the most.”
That’s a tough nut to swallow!
We all have those shadowy corners of our minds that we want to avoid, the touchy subjects that are better ignored. If we delve too deeply into the emotions, fears, and insecurities we have tucked away, there is the very real chance that we will be so strongly affected by them that we will be unable to function.
Or at least, that is the fear that stops us from examining our fears…
The truth is that everyone in the world is ruled by their emotions in some way or another. The people who yield to their emotions are carried on a roller-coaster journey of ups and downs. Those of us who try to block out our emotions end up becoming hard, unfeeling people who struggle just to get in touch with the feelings that so many others can tap into so easily.
There is always going to be something in your mind or heart that is going to cause you fear. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a traumatic situation, or a worry about the future, the emotions that are brought up when you think about those things can be absolutely terrifying.
But don’t you see? It’s those things that make for such great stories!
What makes you identify with the characters in your favorite books? It’s not the fact that they went on an epic adventure, solved a mysterious crime, or married the hero/heroine. Sure, those things are awesome, but they have nothing to do with why you really love the book.
The thing that sells a book to your mind is the recognition of someone else sharing your own fears and insecurities. The emotions, doubts, problems, and issues that plague you are written by someone else, and you read how the hero/heroine overcomes those things. All of a sudden, they are like a hero to you, because they are showing you how to deal with the problems in your own life.
If you want your stories to really be good, you’re going to have to face the emotion/s that you fear the most. By “good”, I don’t mean “sell a million copies”. What I really mean is “someone will close your book and say ‘damn, that was a good read'”.
You don’t want people to forget about your characters or your story once they close your book, but you want to hook them. Hooking your readers is a very subtle thing, and I’m highly convinced that the best way to do so is to present them with characters that they can identify with. No one will identify with a perfect character, so you have to give them those same dark fears and emotions that you/your readers can recognize.
In my humble opinion, shared fears are the best way to bond a reader with the author!