I just read something Marc Martel (of the band Downhere) wrote about his songwriting: “…if the song doesn’t connect with people emotionally first, then there’s not much point to it.”
This isn’t true just of songwriters. I’ve known writers hung up on the mechanics – and don’t get me wrong, that’s important. Writing is a craft that must be honed. But you can have a manuscript that is technically perfect: proper grammar, punctuation, fantastic hook, showing not telling, great plot arc, wickedly tight writing – everything today’s publisher is looking for, and still have something that is void.
I’ve seen this many times in slush piles and in crit groups. Yes, get all those things I listed above correct, but that’s not enough. You must get your readers to connect with your characters, care about them. You want your readers to connect, be emotionally involved.
This last year, my favorite writer released the latest book in a series. It was great as usual, but the ending (although we’d had hints this was going to happen) shocked me, and I literally burst into tears and threw the book across the room. (No spoilers, in case any of the three or so people who follow my column might have a clue of the writer and series in question.)
Can you get your readers that emotionally connected to your stories and your characters?