Saturday, October 14, 2017

6 Steps for Luring Your Readers Into Emotional Investment

Hey-hey, Dragons! I promised a new post and now HERE IT IS. I actually managed to do it during the same week as the PSAT and a college info night, so BE PROUD OF MMEEEE. (JK, it's okay to not be proud... I'll just heap a load of dishonor onto you, your family, and your cow -- no biggie. 😜)

Today, we're talkin' emotional investment.

Have you ever cracked open a book to find the characters so dull and boring? Maybe clichΓ©, too? Perhaps the writing's fantastic, -- maybe even the best you've ever read -- but you just don't care?

Now, have you ever opened a book to find that you do care? Like, a lot? Have you ever found yourself so obsessed with such a book that you daydream over it in class? At work? On the way to the grocery store? This is called emotional investment. And congratulations, my friend, because whether you want to be this invested or not... you are, now.

You can have a fantastic world. You can have a brilliant writing voice. But ultimately, what will draw your readers in the most is your characters.


What does your character want? Why do they want it? Solid -- even changing -- motivations allow your readers to relate to the character. We're all on a quest for something; find our what your character's "something" is.


Everyone has morals. True, they might not align with the traditional sense of right and wrong, but they make us human. Morals give us reason -- for our actions, our choices, our worldview.

Not only that, but morals provide a boundary, a line your character simply refuses to cross. So what happens when he does overstep his boundary?


So your character oversteps his moral boundary, out of ambition to achieve his goal, which (ideally) would leave your character with the consequences of his actions, thus raising the stakes.

I once heard an interview on The Very Serious Writing Show with K.M. Weiland, author of DreamlanderBehold the Dawn, and A Man Called Outlaw, along with several books on writing. In this interview, K.M. discussed how consequences are rarely dealt with in fiction, but how they provide such a massive impact on your plot, your characters, and your world.

In the very beginning of Downton Abbey (don't worry, folks, this is spoiler-free! πŸ˜‰), Mary makes a huge mistake, which leads to direct consequences within the same episode... but throughout all six seasons, more consequences (yep, from that one mistake!) continue to haunt her.


Consequences lead to grief. Wanna raise the stakes a bit more? Then give your characters even more reasons to grieve. No, it doesn't need to be death or cancer or lost love, but those are certainly options you can go for! πŸ™‚

If you're are going for death, cancer, or lost love (anything majorly weaving in other characters), be sure to take the same measures with these new characters as you are with your old ones. Give them motivations, give them morals, give them flaws. The more human your characters seem, the more beloved they'll become to your readers. πŸ’œ


It can be the darkest tale in the world, but I still believe that there should be a little bit of laughter hidden within it. Humor gives your characters -- and your readers! -- a break from the sorrow, a break from the grief, a break from the consequences. Go ahead and give your characters all the grief in the world, but be sure to give them a little bit of humor, too. πŸ˜Š


I'm a firm believer that hope should be in every story.* Hope gives your characters reason to go on, pushing, shoving, striving to reach their goal. And if your readers are enduring a difficult time in their lives, and they're living through your characters... then that hope might be just what they needed, too. 🌟

*Did you know that there's a whole community centered around the idea of hope in YA literature? It's called #rebelliouswriting, and you can check it out here.

Thank you so much for reading, my sweet Dragons! Is there anything you think I missed? Any ideas you'd like to contribute?


Banner background image
recovered from Pixabay.


  1. Great tips and points! I especially like no. 2, extremely helpful, thank you!

    1. Aaaah! THANK YOU, GRAY! I'm so glad it was helpful!

  2. Such an awesome and helpful post, thank you! Also, great example from Downton Abbey - I'd never realised what good writing that was.

    Lovely post :)

    Amy @ A Magical World Of Words

  3. Oh, you're right about all these ... especially consequences! That reference to Downton Abbey was spot on! I never thought about it like that before, but wow ... incredible story-telling, and she sure did pay for her mistake! Over and over and over again ...

    1. Downton Abbey's just SO GOOD. *swoons*

      Thanks for commenting, Kellyn!

  4. THIS WAS SO GOOD. ALL of these steps were pure gold. #3 especially hit me. K.M. Weiland was right, consequences do get forgotten a lot in fiction. But they can make SUCH an impact. I think it's super important to show consequences to bad choices. Or just...ANY kind of choices!

    Humor and hope are biggie ones too! I'm all about the darker, high stakes stories, but if they're TOO dark with no hope to speak of, it just pulls me down. We need a good balance between humor, darkness, and hope!

    Thank you for this post. It was perfect! <3


      I love writing dark + high-stakes stories, too! Humor just adds that good dose of irony + fun ;)

  5. Awesome post and even more amazing tips! Your Downton Abbey example is excellent. <3 Also, thank you for linking to Rebellious Writing; that's so lovely of you!

  6. This was AWESOME, Liv! I can't wait to read one of your stories, because you obviously know how to write a good character. These were epic tips - I loved what you said about hope. I tend to write stories that could VERY easily slide into a smol heap of depression and despair for the characters, so I have to be careful to put the right amount of hope and humor in there to balance it all out. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, girl! <3

    ~ Savannah | Scattered Scribblings

  7. I LOVE THIS. :D
    It's always really hard for me to come up with motivation. Like, they just do it...because I said so. XD But I think I'm getting better at it!
    Anywho, awesome post, Liv! ^_^

  8. I hadn't really thought about it before, but I agree that consequences are rarely dealt with in fiction! Usually the most obvious consequence provides the plot, but the flow-on and/or less obvious ones don't get explored (or explained). I think there's a lot of scope there for investigating stories/characters further!

    And no matter how dismal a story may be, I like to see put in humour and hope. ;)
    Jem Jones

  9. Thanks so much for this post! Absolutely true, especially about consequences. They always have to follow every decision...and not-actually-real people can't escape them either!


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