Saturday, October 2, 2010

Writing with Emotional Depth

Using the senses can add emotional depth to romance writing. Most writers include sight in description. Unfortunately, they often forget the other senses can greatly enhanced story depth, emotion and tone. I know many writers speak of several more senses, but I’m focusing on the five senses here. By using all of the senses—hear, see, smell, taste, and, touch—throughout the story, we draw the reader in so she experiences the characters’ emotions which connects her to the story you are telling. Without emotion, stories are unexciting, lifeless and leave the reader cold. This will surely result in rejection since your first real reader will probably be the editor for the publisher you wish to contract your story.

Say it with me: emotion is the spark that lights the firewood of your story and draws the reader in. And strong emotions/feelings capture the reader’s attention and keeps her hooked because it adds reality to your story. Emotion is by no means all you need to keep your reader hooked, but this is what we’re speaking about at the moment, so I’ll stay on topic.

If you can weave good human emotions into your fiction, you will form connections with the reader and she'll invest her heart in your story. We all experience emotion, even the hard, ruthless alpha hero who has been hurt so badly he thinks he’s buried his emotions so deep he no longer has any.

I don't mind telling you I'm an extremely emotional person. In fact, I’ll freely admit I live on my emotions. I laugh at things most people find not very funny (if someone fall over, I might very well wet myself! There’s just something about taking a spill that tickles me hugely) and I cry at things as simply as the beauty of nature.

Emotions affect all of us in many ways, both psychologically and physiologically. We couldn’t function without emotions, so why do we think our characters can? They must have moods as we do—personalities and temperaments.  They must have feelings about the things they see, hear, touch, taste and smell.

I’m not suggesting you overload each paragraph with all five senses, merely to use them throughout the story to add depth. Each of the five senses, when used within relevant scenes will allow the writer to show the reader the story as oppose to telling her what’s happening.

Just remember to arouse all of your character’s senses and you’ll do the same with your reader. It will result in a story that is significant and satisfying. Your reader will be fully invested in your story because she was able to connect with your hero and heroine, feel as if she was right there experiencing their experiences and she'll want them to have that happy-ever-after.

So the next time you sit to write a scene, try to use as many of the senses as you can to describe your scene and add emotional depth.
Close [x]


  1. Excellent post, Monique! I absolutely love your blog theme also. It's beautiful!

    An agent just requested one of my manuscripts, and as I'm reading this earlier story, I've rediscovered how some of the scenes had such an emotional impact. The characters themselves are torn apart by emotions. I felt for them when I wrote it and as I reread these scenes, I felt the turmoil all over again. We have to dig deep within ourselves to feel those emotions.

    Like you say, some things you will find funny, while others not. Some will find sorrow in some things-and others won't feel the same thing at all. It all depends upon our life experiences. But the deeper we can draw on those experiences, the more our characters will come alive.

    Super post, Monique!

  2. Great point, Terry!

    I think if we can manage to reach down deep and grab the emotion that leaves us bare, we're sure to hit the mark. Big characters deserve big emotions. Love your comment.


  3. Great post, Monique.

    You're so right - the more emotion you show in your characters, the stronger the reading experience.

  4. Oh, so write. It adds depth of character and a closer bond with the reader when you include as many senses as possible.

    Great post!

  5. Great post. I especially appreciate the reminder to incorporate all the senses. Emotion is one of the main reasons why I read romance novels.

  6. This post is great!! I always forget smell? Why ? So I printed this post out, and hung it by my computer. For a good reminder.

  7. Great post Monique :) I've got my fingers crossed for your submission.

  8. Nice post Mon, I always concentrate on the common senses, the sight and the sound and always forget the smell! But when I read work that has smell in it, I always enjoy the added depth. Good reminder thanks, wish I had a little office that I could pin this up on the wall like Neecy ;-)

  9. Hi Monique,
    A terrific post. Without emotion our books are dead in the water.



  10. Hi Monique, I found you through M&B sub-care. Good luck with Bryony she's lovely and very knowledgeable, I'm rooting for you. I have something with them at present, sent after an interview with an editor at this year's RNA conference in Greenwich. You're so right about all the senses needing to be appealed to - it really brings writing to life. I just read your last blog about your daughter. I do hope she's doing okay. My daughter has a school friend, Emily Ash who for much of her childhood fought off a similar illness. She is now the most blossoming, beautiful teenager you could want to meet. She's so gorgeous and lively I am sure she will end up in the performing arts. Sadly, her family emigrated to Australia but on a positive note, they could only go because she had been signed off by the docs as being fit and well. Her parents started a thriving charity, The Emily Ash Trust. She is one of the strongest, feistiest, funniest teenagers I know. Good luck to you and your little girl, and for your writing I have fingers and toes crossed. If you get a chance to come and visit me on my blog I'd be delighted to say hi to you there at


  11. Cathie, Donna & Penny,

    You are so right, there is a certain added depth to the reading experience when the senses are included. It suddenly brings the reader from the-outside-looking-on to in-the-midst-of-events. :)

  12. Aw, Neecy. I feel honoured to know you've deemed my blog post worthy to print and pin up. :)

    Thanks! x

  13. Thank you, Lacey!

    I must admit to being a little nervous. It's suddenly dawned on me if Bryony passes on the MS, that's a public rejection! LoL

  14. Hi, Cait!

    If you have Google gadgets on your desktop you are well away. I've found the Scratch Pad gadget to be a wonderful tool. Just copy and paste or write whatever you wish to remember on the Scratch Pad and it's always on your desktop! :)

  15. Margaret,

    I hear ya! Thanks for stopping by. :)

  16. Thanks for the good luck wishes!

    And good luck to you, too. It's great to be out of the slush pile, but the wait is nerve-racking.

    Thanks for telling me the story of your daughter's friend. It warms my heart to hear of children who survive this disease and grow up to life normal lives.

    Thanks for stopping by. I'll be sure to come hang with you! x

  17. I'm an emotional softie, too :) Have a great week!

  18. LoL. Easily amused and easily moved to tears. Thanks, and you have a great week, too!


Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment. I greatly appreciate it! :) :)