It’s happened. I’ve fallen into a reading slump. It happens to every reader and writer at some point.
I’ve made it halfway into a book and just…lost interest.
But since I’ve been spending so much time analyzing my own writing lately, I was able to pinpoint exactly what made me lost interest.
Lack of emotion.
The book in particular (which I won’t name here) has tremendous world building, and a lot of it. But I’m not connecting with any of the characters on an emotional level, largely because the emotions aren’t the focus.
The author chose to focus more on showcasing the history of the world they built and the reason everything is the way it is and explanations of their gods and the pathways that characters walk and…all these other things that should take a back seat to the actual story.
It may very well build to something amazing, but if readers lose interest before they ever reach that amazing thing, then all the build up is for naught.
And don’t get me wrong. There were a couple really good, emotional scenes, but how far can just a couple of emotional scenes carry a reader?
For a story to be interesting, you need stakes. You need something on the line and a reason for the character to want it.
The overwhelming majority of the time, that means emotions are involved.
It doesn’t have to be some grand scale thing, some major adventure to be interesting. You don’t have to traverse multiple worlds to tell an interesting story. Hell, it can be the most basic premise in the world.
The thing that most often compels people to keep reading is emotion.
Okay, I’ll stop talking in circles and give you an example.
If I just say “Mary walked up the stairs in her Victorian home, old bones creaking as loudly as the wood she trod upon,” it might pique your interest.
But there’s nothing at stake. There’s no emotion to pull you in, just a potentially interesting setting.
She’s just some old biddy walking up the stairs.
But if i describe her desperation, describe the tears flooding the wrinkles on her face as she pushes herself up the stairs with all her might, if I show the pictures of her late husband on the wall, the husband she bought and remodeled that home with, if I tell you about the threat of the nursing home looming on the horizon, waiting for the day she can’t make it up those stairs to her bedroom…
If I show you the picture of her wedding day waiting for her on a little table on the landing to greet her, if she reaches out a hand and touches that picture and says, “I can stay with you one more day, love…”
That emotion MAKES the story.
It’s still just a story of one woman climbing the stairs.
But it has stakes. It hits you right in the feels.
And that is what keeps people reading.
At least, in my case.
That’s why my books are so emotional, because that’s what I look for in a book.
Yeah, they have adventure and usually magic and world building (I tend to write epic high fantasy romance, after all). But the emotion is what makes the story.
It’s that little thing that makes the characters, and thus the story, real.
Never underestimate the power of emotion in books. It can be the difference between a mediocre book and one that absolutely blows people away.
Keep reading. Keep writing.