How to Trigger Your Reader’s Emotions With Words

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If you have been a reader for an extended amount of time, crying for characters might not be strange in any way. Perhaps you are not a sensitive person, yet there are always those books that make you unbearably happy or sad. Sometimes, even to the point of tears.

So, how were the authors able to do such an amazing job?

As an author myself, I take notes of the scenes that impacts my mood the most. Usually, it is characters that cause the stir in my emotions. At other moments, they are scenes.


You’ve probably come across this thousand of times, but it is the most basic and promising way to affect the feelings of your readers. It is not difficult, but it is certainly not the simplest thing to do. Some methods can be followed to ensure your book gains tears and grins.

Make your characters extremely lovable

Having a unique main character that your readers find wholesome or relatable is a very crucial step. It seems terribly obvious, but I had to write a few books to be able to discover the importance of it, and how to do it.

It does not necessarily need to be the protagonist. A side character will do just fine, or even better at times. Equip them with the ability to make scenes wholesome and worth remembering.

A unique personality

The character you create should have a personality trait that stands out. To have a sense of humor or a special way with words that make them impossible to hate. This will make it easier for readers to feel a bond with them, fictional or not.

Take time

Usually, tugging the heartstrings of your readers takes plenty of chapters. Give your characters time to develop and show themselves to your audience. Write scenes that show them off. Giving the people who read your book the time to love the relationships and characters of your story can form an unbreakable connection. Only for you to shatter that bond.

Kill your characters off

Cruel, yes, but how many books have you had your favorite character killed off? Despite it, you might still adore the book with every ounce of your heart. How?

Usually, having a character removed can help the flow of your story tremendously. It can move your plot, improve it and complete it. It can cause a better end or a bitter lesson when your book is completed. Sacrificing a character with strong connections to your readers can cause their tears to form a waterfall, but it can make them realize that your book affects them. The best books are those that make readers feel something. Anything.

Bring them back, if possible

Your character is announced dead. Only…they aren’t. It is your story, and you control it. If it is fantasy or the death of your character was not very clearly explained with enough evidence, a great method to further affect the mood (positively, this time around) of your characters is to bring them back from the dead.

From personal experience (when my favorite character came back to life), your audience will show gratitude like no other. Although it was you who killed off the fictional she/he in the first place.


This is a game, where you play with words. A tragic death does not need to involve so much gore and methods of killing that summon more disgust than sadness. Instead, it is more of what happens after the death. More specifically, the dialogue or actions of the person in your story close to the one that died.

You can make your characters cry on the very first chapter if you want to.

Here is an example of what I wrote in the prologue of my book after the death of a character:

“Hope,” he managed to choke out, his voice a mere whisper. “Nothing happened, Dad just slipped.”

He thought I’m too young to understand what happened. He was wrong.

“I saw it all. Mom did this.” I held back a sob. “Why?”

He covered my hands in his. I could feel the warmth surging up from my hands and calming me slightly. I will never forget how he held me or the look on his face when he glanced up at me.

“Because she wants to, and I can’t change that.” He shook his head in a disapproving manner. “I wished that I didn’t trust her so much.” He forced a smile through the overwhelming pain while grabbing on to my hand.

I could not stop myself from breaking down. My father blamed himself, although he knew that the fault did not belong to him.

“Don’t trust anyone but yourself, Angel.” His eyes flickered to the ground. “Or, you will get hurt. Once you trust, you can’t go back.”

“No,” I whispered. “Don’t leave me. Please don’t leave me…”

“Goodbye, my beautiful rose.”

Tears pooled in my eyes as his heart thumped for the last time, and he slipped away into a sleep he will never awaken.

You might not feel the weight of despair, but some might. All readers are different. Keep the fact in mind when you are writing a scene of sadness.

Death is a heavy topic. Inject it into your words, and your hope of having readers cry due to the impact of your story can happen. Do not write too little about it, and definitely do not overexaggerate it. Make it serious — a scene that people may be able to relate to. Personal memories may resurface and hence, cause more of a connection between reader and story.


Photo by Erika Giraud on Unsplash

Affecting the emotions of your readers do not always involve death or a painfully distressing image. A joyous and wholesome scene can reach the hearts of your audience just as easily, causing both tears and smiles.

Here are some examples of merry scenes that can result in a reaction:

  • A hugging scene between two close characters after an extended amount of time
  • Recalling a series of events after losing memory
  • A bad relationship between characters turning good
  • A plot twist, with an impossible outcome turning possible such as a succeeding attempt in an unthinkable circumstance
  • Exchanging vows in a wedding
  • A better end for your story after a door closes, and another opens
  • The scene when someone realizes he/she is in love
  • Reuniting readers and characters by bringing them back from the dead, or after many chapters

Giving your readers the chance to connect and relate to what you are writing can have a toll on their feelings. This, in return, instills a sense of bond to your overall masterpiece. Having the skill to develop that feeling within your audience can help greatly.

With just a few tips, your stories will be able to trigger strong emotions from your readers. Go on, write the scenes!



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