Stringed instruments have a little-known special ability: sympathetic vibration. Each string is tuned to a particular pitch, and when something nearby generates a sound exactly on that pitch, the string will hum along.
For example, you can get a violin, a harp, or a piano to do this. Some unusual instruments have special strings that do only that–sympathetic strings, arranged alongside the strings that carry the tune.
Readers are like sympathetic strings. Strike a note on their exact wavelength, and they will feel those emotions right alongside your character.
That’s what you want. But how do you get there? How do you avoid striking the not-quite-right wavelength?
Here’s a suggestion from My Book Therapy mentor Susan May Warren: in every scene you write, identify the primary emotion your point-of-view character is feeling. Then cross-examine yourself. When have you felt that emotion, big time? Journal that experience, and keep those feelings front and center as you write.
On our blog last week contained an outstanding example of this. Morgan Busse, a Christian fantasy writer, told how reliving an amazingly bleak time in her own life led her to be able to portray an experience for her main character in an authentic way. She’s right; I’ve read her book, and the character’s feelings do resonate. Check her post out!