Writing is a kind of telepathy. You write words on a page and at a different place and time, another human will read it and they will understand your mind at that moment. You aren't there but they read your thoughts.
But only if you share your truth, your story and your heart. In today's article, Alysia Seymour shares her tips for writing a story that connects with readers.
Most writing tips are focused on practical steps to take to outline your story, complete a draft, get proper edits and formatting done before sending it to be published.
These are amazing tips for those of us who are just starting out in writing and need some guidance.
But what if you want to know more about writing a fictional story that connects to readers? Or, how to inspire readers with your storytelling?
Before all the practical steps, you want to know how to emotionally connect to your readers that leaves them feeling strong emotions throughout your story. That’s what keeps them reading.
If you haven’t yet read Story Genius by Lisa Cron then I suggest you get a copy. She explains beautifully how to tap into that emotional connection.
[From Joanna: Lisa was on The Creative Penn podcast talking about Story Genius. You can listen here.]
To get started today with telling an emotionally moving or inspirational story, I’ve discovered through my own writing process that a few things are key, and I want to share them with you.
I wasn’t someone who was “called” to be a writer, but I discovered it out of my love for books and fictional stories. After I completed my first novel, I realized how healing writing was for me.
Which brings me to the first key step in writing an emotionally impactful story.
(1) Write a story that is healing for YOU
Find a moment from your own life that brings up difficult or painful emotions. If you don’t want to revisit painful memories, then choose a moment that left you a changed person, for better or worse.
Just find that moment — maybe you have several — and use them as the premise for the internal and emotional journey your character will go on in the story.
Of course, you want to change them up. Use your imagination to shift some of the events and people around to make it a fictional story and not a memoir of your life. If you can heal through writing your fictional story, it will be inevitable that your readers will find healing in it as well.
(2) Be vulnerable
I know it can feel scary to tap into that vulnerable state. It often can make us feel anxious or uncertain about how to move forward. We’re afraid of being seen and judged for who we really are, or what we really think.
But, when we can write our characters and story from a vulnerable state, healing our own wounds as we do, then our story shifts into something more than words on a page.
It becomes a magical tale of the victim becoming the hero, revealing flaws—not as something to be ashamed of, but as beautiful scars of all that’s been overcome and to be worn with pride.
And through the courage or revealing your own scars within your storytelling, you allow the reader to get in closer to you, which is what you want.
(Remember, you don’t have to be literal in writing these moments of your life. People don’t even need to know they are personal. But it will show in your writing that you are deeply connected to the story.)
(3) Don’t underestimate your own power
It’s easy as writers, especially when we’re first getting started, to doubt our skills and knowledge of the practice. We can feel timid and unsure about our writing and start saying “Who am I to do this?”.
Coming from this place only creates limitation. You must remember the power you carry within you. You have the power to heal yourself and others with your writing. You have the power to teach yourself what you don’t yet know about writing. You have the power to write a truly inspiring and impactful story that will change lives.
Believe in yourself and your power. If you can do even this one step, it will change how you write. If you can come from a place of empowerment rather then doubt, you can write a story that will touch lives.
Those are the 3 key steps to writing a story that will connect with readers and leave them feeling emotionally moved at the end of the story. These steps are simple, but not always easy.
So be patient with yourself as you test them out. Tapping into vulnerability when you haven’t visited those spaces in a while (if ever) can be challenging and you may even feel blocked by fear, unable to reach that state.
Just keep working on it and rewriting the moments from your own life into your fictional story to heal yourself. This alone will help you open up and be vulnerable with your writing, one step at a time.
The writing journey isn’t meant to be perfect. In fact, I believe that it’s far more meaningful the more imperfect it is. Because it’s in those imperfect moments within the story—the ones that sprawl onto the page unconsciously—that leave you . . . and therefore your readers, in awe.
Have you practised being vulnerable in your writing in order to forge a deeper connection with readers? Please leave your thoughts below and join the conversation.
Alysia Seymour is a fiction author and Story Guide. She is a self-published author of The Raven Dreams, with another novel currently in the works. She created a one-on-one transformational journey through rewriting your life story into a fictional short story to heal, grow, and create life your way. You can start the journey today.