How to Write With Emotion and Make Your Readers Feel

by The Magic Violinist | 35 comments

As writers, no matter what our goals are, there is something we should all strive to do: make our readers feel. Whether that feeling be hope, happiness, fear, or any number of other emotions, it can be achieved through masterful writing. That's how to write with emotion and make readers feel.

How to Write With Emotion and Make Your Readers Feel

How to Write With Emotion

That is easier said than done, though, right? How can we turn our words into something so real, it gives the reader a punch to the gut or brings a smile to their face?

There are endless possibilities, but the seven easiest and most effective ways are:

  1. Write about what scares you.
  2. Write about what excites you.
  3. Write about what disgusts you.
  4. Write about what saddens you.
  5. Write about what fuels you.
  6. Write about what angers you.
  7. Write about what fills you with love.

Simple as that. When we write about something honest and real, our readers will feel what we’ve felt, so long as we conveyed that emotion in the most truthful way we know how. You don’t even have to be a non-fiction writer to use these techniques. Your fictional character can experience the same emotions in different ways.

Actors pull from their realities all the time to portray their characters accurately. Do the same thing in your writing.

3 Keys to Capture Emotion in Writing

There are a few additional tips you can keep in mind to help you with this.

1. Intense emotions come through the most.

In other words, the stronger the better. A little disappointment will not be felt as much as rage or grief. Amusement is not the same as glee or absolute joy. The most important things make us feel the most.

2. Don’t pour it on too thick.

While it’s true that deep emotions are felt the most by readers, you don’t want to go overboard. If your character constantly swings from despair to falling madly in love to shock, it will get old really fast. A little goes a long way. Give your characters a break to just be normal for a while so when a bombshell does hit, it hits hard.

3. Write a journal.

On the spot, it might be difficult to come up with memories or feelings to write about. Every emotion is most powerful in the moment. If you’re able to, anytime something intense happens that causes you to feel an extreme emotion, write it down as soon as possible. What triggered the sensation and how did it affect you? You can draw on those journal entries later.

One Final Thought: Keep It Real

Readers will be able to tell when you’re forcing something onto them. Don’t try to make a character’s reaction to an event bigger than it has to be. Nine times out of ten, the simplest way is the best way.

All in all, if you want readers to respond to your writing, remember to be simple, be honest, and be emotional.

What causes you to be moved by writing? Do you have other tips for how to write with emotion? Let us know in the comments.


Write for fifteen minutes about someone who feels intensely. It can be in the form of a journal entry or it can be a character going through these emotions. Draw on memories to help you along the way.

When you’re finished, share your work in the comments, if you’d like. Don’t forget to give your fellow writers some love, too.

How to Write Like Louise PennyWant to write like Louise Penny? Join our new class and learn how. Learn more and sign up here.

Join Class

Next LIVE lesson is coming up soon!

The Magic Violinist is a young author who writes mostly fantasy stories. She loves to play with her dog and spend time with her family. Oh, and she's homeschooled. You can visit her blog at You can also follow The Magic Violinist on Twitter (@Magic_Violinist).


  1. ARHuelsenbeck

    Fabulous article, Magic Violinist. Good ideas here.

  2. Azure Darkness Yugi

    A great article! I could use this advice.

  3. Madani

    I write in French.
    I am at the end of my novel. In the old small car of her husband a woman of sixty years is heading to the place where was born the man she was in love with when she was eghteen. The husband was driving.
    As I said before, i write in French and the difficulty I am facing is the emotion I have to inject in my text to affect the reader.

    • nancy

      Madani, above I mentioned buying THE EMOTIONAL CRAFT OF FICTION. C’est fantastique! In the scene you mention above, this book will give you exercises to help you express what each character is thinking and feeling and hiding. Par example, son mari de 60 ans, c’est the même que le beau? Si non, ce livre vous donne des exercises pour vous aider d’explorer des émotions de la femme au sujet de chaque homme.

    • Madani

      Je vous remercie beaucoup pour l’information. J’espère en tirer profit. I started reading the book you mentioned ( The emotional craft of fiction). I am at page ten. I think it’s exactly what I want.

    • nancy


  4. William E Daye

    True Story (All names changed to protect real people involved)
    It was a little before five o’clock on a Friday afternoon in June, one of those humid southern days when the vivid yellow sun was high in the cloudless blue sky when the summer from hell officially kicked off. I was finishing off my second full week at my first full time job almost a month removed from graduating from a local community college with an Associates Degree in Office Administration. My thumb was swollen and irritated from fourteen days straight of flipping through hundreds perhaps thousands of pages within files in the records department where I was stationed. I just met up with my contact to receive my first paycheck when things took an unexpected turn.

    I’d been in contact with Mike Wakefield since early May, and still to this today we keep in touch once in a blue moon. I found it strange when I pushed through the fancy entrance door that rotated and Mike stood there with an uncertain look on his face. That wasn’t a good sign especially on a Friday afternoon. To a certain degree almost a year later, I understand, although, at least let the contracts run out before you decide to make a rash decision like this.

    I had big plans for the weekend, after getting my first real corporate level job paycheck. I was also hoping to pay down some of my bills a little further, finally making strides. Anybody who’s worked in a minimum wage job while in school knows you cannot pay off anything major on a job with unstable hours.

    “Will!” Mike finally said to me when I stepped outside feeling a light breeze, “It’s not going to be a good weekend in your home.”

    I had been laid off. What do I do? How am I going to pay these bills? I have no experience except two weeks. I quit the old job with an intention of returning if I had too, worst case scenario. I was promised this, until the hiring manager I had it good with had gotten transferred. I was devastated.

    • Danka Orihel

      Avoid too much explaining and redundancy (cloudless blue sky…)
      If you keep it honest and simple, the readers will be interested what had happened.

    • Dey

      William this is not moving in any way. Your approach is off. Rewrite this in the now, either present tense, or if that’s too much, then the immediate past. But you need to scene-ify (TM) this don’t tell us about the experience, LIVE it. Then we’ll live it with you. Make stakes that are lost with this job loss not just not paying ahead on bills.

  5. Rodrigo Palomino

    Excellent, I appreciate it. Recommended. Thank you very nuch.

  6. nancy

    For those serious about mining the depths of emotion, buy Donald Maass’s new book THE EMOTIONAL CRAFT OF FICTION. It is incredible. 206 pages of explanation and exercises.

    • John Grumps Hamshare

      Thanks for the heads up, Nancy.

    • drjeane

      Thanks for this reference, Nancy. I’m looking forward to receiving the copy I just ordered.

  7. Hindra Saputra

    I stare at the wedding invitation that we have mutually agreed upon. It’s an ice-blue colored, embossed with rich, ivory letters of English Roundhand that pirouette across the marbled parchment like her steps when she performed the Swan Lake few weeks ago.

    The card crackled like a dancer’s crinoline beneath my fingers as I lifted it up from a box. I touched a raised character, ran my fingertips lightly along a line, as the blind read braille. The ascenders and descenders formed graceful swirls as it rose up to meet my searching touch.

    Feel this words, Kay. I said to myself. Yes, you can feel these words, do you ?

    Half-believing, half-dreaming. I studied the words read in that formal lexicon peculiar to occassions that mark the steppingstones of life:

    Elaine Marie Gainsborough
    Kay Anderson Reinheardt

    Invite you to share in their joy
    As they celebrate the solemnization of their marriage vows

    At six P.M. on November the fifth

    At the mansion of Reinheardt, Southend View, Beverly Hills, California.

    I grazed the words again with my fingertips before I set it aside. The framed sky across me offering a beautiful view of golden light burst slowly engulfed by columns of white clouds. Forgive me, Sue. I whispered as soft breeze managed to reach my cheeks.

    If only you said those words years ago, if only you told me before Elaine gave her all to me … Forgive me for I’m not able to sacrificed one, innocent soul just to feed my own desire.

    I reached my phone and dive onto the picture album. I stared at the pictures of me and a dark-haired woman sharing hugs, smiles and kissess for a moment before I marked them all and the screen asking me if I want to delete them.

    I choose to pressed the ‘yes’ button with a small, fragile hope that time will eventually erase those pictures from my mind as easy as my Iphone does.

    • John Grumps Hamshare

      Hi, Hindra,
      I like the overall descriptive elements of the piece. May I suggest editing some of the small grammar and verb tense anomalies to improve the flow?

    • Emilia Du Plooy

      HI, I love your beginning, and i am already even by the end of the first paragraph wondering what happened to bring you to the place that you are at that momment. Well done.

  8. maulana hafidh R

    The morning rays slipped in from my bedrooms window. A cool breeze I could feel from the outside world was calming my mind and nerves from a nightmare before. I recalled the nightmare that happened last night and tried to understand it. I jumped in surprise as the door opened suddenly by my stepmom. “Hey, you lazy kid !! Get up and get yourself clean !!” she shouted at me who was whining. I could sense her anger rising as she stomped her way to me. She grabbed me by the collar and dragged me to the bathroom downstairs. “You smell like a garbage, you can’t take care of yourself don’t you !? “ she shouted at me. I felt sore all of my body. In the bathroom door, she swung me inside like I’m nothing. “I’ll gave you 10 minutes to get yourself clean. I have something to do with you.” She said with evil grin on her face. I jumped in surprise after she slammed the door shut.

    I froze in fear hearing her words. I held my knees tight on my chest and started to whimper slowly. I had to wash myself clean before she would do anything worse to me than this. I took off my dirty clothes and hang on the hanger.

    (Its difficult when your first language isn’t English, sorry for my bad English.)

    • John Grumps Hamshare

      Hi, Maulana,
      No need to apologise. Few of us have the talent to write in a second language, so you should be proud of your ability and determination.
      The story-line and descriptions are there as a framework, and I’m sure your eagerness to write will lead you to expand your expertise. It takes courage to share your work, so congratulations.

    • maulana hafidh R

      What do you think about my story ?

    • John Grumps Hamshare

      Hi, Maulana,
      I’m not an expert, so please ignore any of my comments if you want to.
      As I said, the framework is already there, so the reader can get an idea of what it’s about. It might help if you give names to the characters. This lets the reader identify with them and build mental pictures. And physical descriptions don’t need too much detail unless they are vital to the story–for instance: a 3-eyed snake, or someone with a wooden leg.
      The original article is about using emotion to make your readers feel what the character feels. My suggestion would be to avoid using the words like ‘feel, see, touch, hear, and taste’
      Some quick examples: ‘The fresh morning breeze came through the open window. Her arm tingled as the tiny hairs stood up. She shivered.’.
      Or: ‘As she ran, the sharp stones dug into her bare feet and left a trail of blood’.
      Final suggestion which might help with the grammar and verb tense is to copy your story in your native language then paste it into the left-hand text box in Google Translator. (There might be a word limit.). At the top of the right hand box, choose the language to translate into (for example, English), and Google will translate it. Select all the text in the right hand box and copy it. Then paste it into a word processor so you can check it. You can also do that the other way round if you want. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but it might be useful.
      Hope it helps, and good luck with your writing.

    • maulana hafidh R

      Ok, Thanks ^-^

    • sherpeace

      Maulina, I suggest writing in your native language. If you can draw attention there, you could hire a translator as I recently did. My debut novel is being translated into Salvadoran Spanish (not a huge difference from Spanish in other countries, but enough to give it the ring of authenticity).
      I have read published books by non-native writers & they were very convoluted even for me who taught ESL for 20 years. A great story will eventually get translated into other languages!
      My best to you!

  9. John Grumps Hamshare

    Hi, Magic Violinist and accompanying ensemble,
    Here’s a short extract from a Writing Skills course I completed 3 years ago.
    Cathy crouched one-legged twixt the windowsill and ladder.
    The moment her outstretched fingers touched the ladder’s cold metal upright, Cathy made her choice. She grasped the nearest rung with one hand while keeping a firm grip on the window frame with the other. Transferring her weight onto the hand holding the ladder, she extended her leg a few more inches.
    Fear gripped her innards as her sense of balance threatened to desert her. A scream formed deep inside her tightened gut. It strained to burst forth, but was stifled when her searching foot found safety on a ladder rung. Cathy paused to regain control. The ladder vibrated in sympathy with the pulsating throb of the muffled bass drum that had replaced her heart. Her body trembled and she almost wet herself. With both hands and both feet on the ladder, Cathy stabilised her position. Calmness returned. She started her descent.
    Rung by rung, she neared the ground, her confidence rising. Finally, she stood at the foot of the ladder. She’d done it. She was on her way to realising her dream, and no one could stop her now. Cathy took a step backward and turned to walk toward the park where her friends were waiting for her.
    “Cathy! What do you think you’re up to?” The forceful tone of the voice penetrated her nervous system like acupuncture needles, temporarily paralysing her movements.

  10. Charles Henderson

    I just wanted to tell you that I love these kind of posts on this blog. You do not hear from me much, but I follow this blog without fail. Keep up the great work!

  11. Emilia Du Plooy

    OK, here goes….

    Quiet, very very quiet…. A deep still has taken hold of me. My mind is refusing to form words. All I can do is to let my eyes absorb, like dried out sponges, the scene of beauty before me. I let it soak my soul, bringing refreshment and nourishment to the driest corners.
    The landscape around me is almost a quiet as my soul. As far as I can see, this way and that way, the wide open spaces whispers my name. The wind is calm now. Everything around me speaks of a peacefulness that is truly uncommon.
    I close my eyes and breathe slowly, as if to save the picture on the memory banks of my mind.

  12. Shelby helona

    When the last time we went silvertion Colorado was amazing in 70, you would have walk across the shopping center and have beautiful afternoon then in Waco on hot evening where you can enjoy sunshine because it really too hot and you determined to go to Colorado some time soon and have amazing last time there before we go back into Texas. So please come check out silvertion Colorado is one best place, that for me made me happy and the times we been up there. So please come check silvertion Colorado out and hope you enjoyed it like we did

  13. Shelby helona

    One day it was windy and feel nice in silvertion Colorado so when took a walk through the shopping center and had amazing and happy time. When were happy to be away from hot Texas. So when went to brown bear reasturant to eat and go to emporium store that had all stuff there. Silvertion Colorado is like our second home to escape from a hot weather in Waco Texas. So please come check out silvertion Colorado because it a beautiful place and you will be amazed how you like it.

  14. Breana Layne

    I’ve felt this way before. It takes up all the space it can get. The constant sadness is almost too overwhelming, but I can’t help but feel this way. Not after what he did to me. The wind numbs my already cold skin. I can’t feel anything, and I wonder if this is what it’s like to be dead. I wonder if this is just the reality we’re not seeing. Or don’t want to see. All these happy, smiling kids around me. Kids my age, kids in my school. They can’t see it. Blind and oblivious to it. I have no one, not even the trees. As much as I admire them, they say I’m too selfish, too arrogant. And they left it at that which I suppose is okay. But it just hurts to be left alone now. It’s all I can do though. Since I have myself and the little people who like to live in my head, I have company. Not good company, but it’s better than silence. They bully me, the little people do. There’s thing I can do about it. I can’t see them, so I can’t run away and hide. I can’t feel them, so I can’t push them away. All I can do is hear them say nasty, dark, and cruel things to me repeatedly. When they come like running water though, I go outside. It’s the only thing I can do to make them stop. My parents know that. It’s usually at night, so the stars are out and bright, like glowing balls of hope to me. They talk, and say it’s going to be alright. But they don’t say a word when the clouds cover them. It’s like they secretly think I’m a freak like the rest of them. I don’t like say hate, but to be brutally honest, I hate that. And sometimes I hate being me.

  15. S.M. Sierra

    ‘The life of the party’ was what everyone who knew Mina said.
    ‘Her life is almost over, so if you want to see her, come now.’ is what my niece said on my voice mail the other day. I played it several times while the years flashed through my mind.
    I thought I was finished with her the first time and the last time I bailed her out of jail.
    I though I was done when she chose drugs over family.
    I vowed to never speak to her after after I received a letter from a department store informing me I owed a 500.00 dollar shoplifting fee.
    When she found out she had cancer she came and apologized for using my name, explaining she had not wanted to go to jail again. She cried and asked for my forgiveness.
    I gave it, of course I did, she was my baby sister and while I told myself I loved her, I knew I did not like her.
    Three years later as I listened to the voicemail and fought the urge to pretend I never heard it I knew I had to see her one more time.

    • sherpeace

      Well done! This would be a great story! Either about Mina. Or about her sister, the narrator. Or both.
      The 1st sentence should end with “about her.” I’d love to know more. Keep writing!

  16. Victor Perez

    Once again he found himself in the same predicament as always full of self disappointment, one of his many feelings that had lately become all too familiar. His head hung low, draped heavily with self-disgust, as he held in his hands what remained of his last paycheck. “You want it or not man, …” muttered his dealer with impatience in his tone, “ … I dont have all day”. Momentarily struck by hesitation, he remained quiet for a few seconds before regretfully succumbing to his addiction, and handed the stranger exactly 47$. Hastily, he snatched the bag and shoved it into his pocket.

    Although his house was only one block away, literally a 30 second trip, to him it felt like a walk of shameful guilt that would last a lifetime.
    Growing disheartened from self-disgust, his eyes remained locked on the floor beneath him and hidden from prying stares as he dragged himself down the sidewalk and into his house.

    He stopped for a second as he walked into his bedroom and couldn’t help but to notice the heavy stench of stale cigarette smoke, old dirty laundry, and depression. Overwhelmed by everything always being in a complete mess: his room, his thoughts, and his life; he suddenly grew anxious and distraught and felt broken inside. Pathetic. Junkie. Worthless. That’s what he thought of himself.

    What once worked as a coping mechanism for him, crystal meth, had now worsened his condition and tripled his problems, frustrations, and anxieties. Flustered by a sudden urge to breakdown, to cry, and to scream at the top of his lungs in hopes that he’d flood out the never ending bark of his guilt-stricken his conscience. Just another feeling that had lately become all too familiar.


    I went down in the lift to the ground floor. As the doors opened, I saw the sign ‘Ryder Ward’. I walked down the corridor, wishing these damn butterflies would stop fluttering. I had no reason to be nervous after all I was 30 minutes early. I handed my appointment letter to a nurse and went to sit in one of the chairs in the corridor. I observed the nurse speaking to another nurse, and tensed. My gut was telling me there was something wrong, the butterflies had stopped but now I was trying to control my saliva. It was building up in my mouth – I was nauseous and I had no idea why. My heart beat faster and my hands started to sweat. They were clammy – ‘please don’t come and want to shake hands.’ I couldn’t calm my heartbeat and suddenly my eyes filled up. I couldn’t blink otherwise they would spill over. That would be embarrassing because I wouldn’t be able to explain. I’m starting to panic now – what do I do? My heart won’t slow down, I can’t blink, I can’t speak – my throat is dry, and now I’m hot – I want to take my clothes off to cool down. ‘Shit, the nurse is coming over, okay, calm down you stupid bitch. Don’t tell me to calm down. Okay, sorry, you’ve done this loads of times – you can do it. No I can’t! I know I can’t! I just do. You know what? Fuck it, I need to blink and if she thinks I’m weird so fucking what. Everybody thinks I’m weird anyway.’ I open my handbag to find a tissue and blow my nose loudly and wipe my wet cheeks.

    The nurse stopped in front of me and introduced herself and asked if I wanted a drink. Grateful, I asked for water. She left, I let out a long sigh. I hadn’t even realised I was holding my breath. Okay I can breathe a bit now, my heart slowed down. The butterflies came back but were not fluttering in a frenzy, that’s okay, that’s normal. Thank God. My hands are still clammy and hot as am I. My eyes are still full – I can’t control them, and I still don’t know why. ‘Oh my god, here’s the nurse – okay stop crying, she’s got your water. Take a sip and feel it go down your tube. You’ll be fine.’ I mopped my cheeks and took the proffered plastic cup with care. I don’t want to squeeze it or let it slip through my hands. I took a sip, felt it going down, calming the butterflies and concentrated on my breathing. Nodding my thanks to the nurse, she left me alone again. That’s good – I don’t want to talk, not yet anyway.

  18. Anonymous The First

    The man’s eyes were tired; gone were the days where there was some kind of hope. Now he was clinging to remnants.

    “I love you, Emaline,” and the words were pure and true. But no purity, and no truth, would ever bring a response. “I have always loved you.”

    The words were clearly rehearsed: they carried the weight of having been said far too many times. And yet the words lost none of the love and none of the meaning.

    “And I would die for you, Emaline -” and here the man paused, cleared his throat – “and I would endure this a thousand times if I just knew you here, Emaline. All I need to do is know.”

    “If you would come back.” Another clearing of his throat. “If you would just come back. Emaline.”

    And then again there was no response, and it was the end of the speech, and there was nothing left to say. The man stayed silent for a few minutes. He stared out at the hills he had danced on, and the heavens he had wept for, and the river he had drank from, and all the places Emaline was not. He wondered how he could end it. Jump in the river and let the rocks take him – many had died that way. Or perhaps a shot to the head. Or perhaps light himself on fire, a fitting end: if he was not to go to hell, he would die in hell, because he did not find her.

    But instead he spoke.

    “It’s been twenty five years and seventy two days and trust me I counted them all. I -” The man paused, closed his eyes, and breathed through his nose. “In my head, I know you’re gone. I can’t help but wish, though, and I can’t help but think…”


    The man looked up at the sky. At the sun which shone too brightly and the clouds which hid too well, at the sky heaven’s supposed to be in but it was never really there, was it? Because he’s looked – and at the stars too – and he’s looked. And never has he found, and never will he find, a trace of Emaline, who is dead, who must be dead, who died a long time ago when the tears hadn’t dried out.



    “As long as it takes, until I come or you come.”

    Clears his throat.

    Long gone are the tears.

    “I will wait for you.”

    — I am an aspiring author who happens to be a twelve year old girl. Please send critique. This is far from my best work and it’s super cliché but in the time limit I couldn’t think of anything else.

    May post something better after. —

  19. drjeane


    The tears come unbidden, every time I read this passage. I wrote it and still it moves me. I think that’s a good thing, but no reader has shared their response with me.

    “Tasha, he picked your name before you were even born and he talked to you all the time. He was with me in the hospital when you were born and your eyes got so wide when you came out and heard his voice. It was like you had been listening all that time and was so glad to see him.”

    My tears are for never having experienced anything like this myself, either while being born or while giving birth. In writing The Birth of Hope, I was able to create a reality where things worked out in spite of the many obstacles the characters faced.

    I did experience something like this when I received the gift of being present at my granddaughter’s birth. I remember seeing her eyes widen when she heard her father’s voice – before the cord was cut – she turned and looked at her father (my son) with a kind of deep recognition that was so beautiful. The tears then were tears of joy.

  20. Isaac Madigan

    “You saw the star explode, right?” I heard this statement from the horizon of my shoulder, as I stared into the sky.

    The Universe is no longer absent and neither is my heart. Who’d think that an extra terrestrial species would conquer our own moon … in a single night. My heart pounded to the odd, flashing lights that protruded from the moon’s surface. My jaw loosened to awe of such a spectacular moment in human history. As if time froze for solid five minutes, I couldn’t stop staring at the future fate of humanity.

    “We are not alone in the Universe. After centuries of debate, humanity is nothing but a parasite!” My voice trembled.

    “They said it themselves on the news.” My uncle dropped his gun into the sand and sipped from his whisky. “Mars was destroyed more than two hours ago. Whoever they are, they are staring down at us from the moon’s surface, laughing over the fact that they’ve obliterated a planet from our familiar solar system.” the rough edged words crept over my shivering shoulder.

    Two a.m. on a Tuesday morning and humanity has fallen into turmoil. The human heart of each woman, man and child has fallen to it’s darkest counterpart. I thought about my uncle’s presence and how much he’s willing to lay his life for my protection. This is the start to a story of survival, mystery and death; something that i’m responsible for admitting.

    “Let’s go, I don’t feel safe here.” I whispered gently, staring at the once familiar moon. “Take me home.” I begged, a cloud of heated oxygen dropping from the cave of my mouth.

    ~ Thank-you for reading



  1. Пишите с чувством, пишите для читающих - […] Оригинал: […]
  2. Writing Links Round Up 10/30-11/4 – B. Shaun Smith - […] How to Write With Emotion and Make Your Readers Feel […]
  3. Writing Emotional Resonance - Linda S. Clare - […] Emotional resonance is not waxing theatrical or hamming it up. In writing about emotions, we’ve discussed that surface “telling”…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Say Yes to Practice

Join over 450,000 readers who are saying YES to practice. You’ll also get a free copy of our eBook 14 Prompts:

Popular Resources

Books By Our Writers

Share to...