You Can Evoke Emotions in Your Readers. Here’s How.
Instilling your memoir with enough emotion to stir up a response from your readers is do-able. It is undeniably one of the most important results an author must set out to achieve. A memoir seeks to move a reader and without evoking emotions, a memoir cannot move a reader. The beauty of writing is, of course, that you have a great freedom of approach, but there are some basic tips and techniques that, if well implemented, will make it much easier to breathe some emotions into your memoir.
The subject of your memoir is a character in your story. Yes, s/he is you in another time or a loved one but s/he is nonetheless a character in the story. If you approach your story people as characters, you will find technique easier to implement.
Putting Emotions Into Characters
First, let us look at putting emotions into your people. If the reader grows to love (or hate for that matter) your characters, they will react when you portray your characters in the difficult events of their story. The crux of getting your readers emotionally invested in the characters you present is to write your characters with details that squarely invest them with some humanity.
A myriad of characters on a computer screen is about the furthest you can get from a living, breathing human being, but an author who is skillful will make it impossible to tell the difference—and this is something you can learn to do.
Making the Characters Easy to Relate to
Audiences seem to like identifying some degree with the character, which leads readers to project onto the character (effectively doing a lot of your job for you). When you include details of feeling and response—even if the situation is not familiar to the reader—the reader will identify because of the feeling. It is the feeling that is familiar. Your portrayal of a family member need not be extremely complex but it must be detailed for readers to care deeply for his/her well being nonetheless. Be sure to include details that all readers will relate to: aspirations, clothing, fears.
Making Your People Unique
Another technique, and inverse of the previous one, is to make your characters unique. There needs to be something special about how you portray your people, some reason for the audience to be interested in them. Take the time to actually come up with valid proofs / demonstrations for your character to be the person he or she is. Find characteristics about the people in your story that makes them different from other characters. In that way, we will not confuse Aunt Mary with Aunt Sally.
Keep in mind that your audience can get emotionally invested in the characters’ motivations and their development. For a person from your past to feel real, they must have proper motivation for their actions. Characters should learn or change in some way throughout the story. A memoir is after all a hero’s journey. Witnessing a person reach resolution or descend into depression will be an emotional experience for your readers. Every good story is built on good characters, and the same is true for your memoir. So, really find a way to pour your heart and soul into portraying them if you want to get emotions out of your readers.
Inserting Emotion Into Writing
Make it a priority to use language as effectively as possible to convey your tone to the readers. Take advantage of the versatility and uniqueness that writing has over other mediums. Use figurative language and a creative vocabulary to bend your readers’ emotions to your will. It is worth noting that for this to actually work you must do it tastefully. Using intense metaphors and overly verbose sentences to describe everything in your writing is a bad idea. Your readers will quickly grow numb to it, and, on top of that, it will muddle the clarity of your writing.
Another important technique to keep in mind is varying sentence structure. Just as every sentence should not be a long-winded figure of speech, your book should not read like a list of events either. You will see that changing up the length and word order of your prose will create a kind of ebb and flow that really engages readers for when emotional high points come along. Short and to-the-point sentences can deliver a message that hits the audience with tension and passion. Long and descriptive sentences can achieve a level of detail not possible in a three-word sentence and calms the story. It all depends on what you, as an author, want to portray about the characters in your memoir.
Through all these bits of advice you must always remember that at the end of the day you are the author. If you think you can write emotion into a story without doing any of the things mentioned above, then go for it. You are the creator, so create. But, you are likely to find that my suggestions will help you to write better character and evoke emotions in your readers.