Blog, For Writers, Tools

Using Pain and Pleasure to Keep Your Readers Engaged

There are two main types of emotions: positive and negative. Essentially pain and pleasure represent these two measures of emotion. In almost any art form pain and pleasure are used to emotionally speak to the audience. As writers we have to take our readers through an emotional journey through our storytelling. Any emotional experience includes pain and pleasure.

Example 1: I experienced pain after the death of my sister.

Example 2: I experienced pleasure after finding a boyfriend.

Two difference experiences, right? Both of these examples happened in my life at the same time. Actually, the day that my boyfriend and I were supposed to go on our first date was when I found out about my sister’s death. I’m not just rambling on about my life here; I have a point. Pain and pleasure exist simultaneously. Every individual experiences pain and pleasure throughout their lives, so do our characters.

It’s our job as writers to constantly fluctuate the levels of pain and pleasure that our characters experiences, which then translate to the emotions our readers experience as well.  A death of a character can bring your readers either pain or pleasure. I’ll be using events from The Game of Thrones as examples. (Spoiler Alerts!)

Pain Example: The death of Ned Stark.

Pleasure Example: The death of Joffrey Lannister.

Every single plot point in your novel has a different measure of pain and pleasure. Everything that happens to your characters should produce an emotional response in your audience. Just like how the Red Wedding and the Battle of the Bastards illicit emotions in fans of The Game of Thrones.

Pain and pleasure are natural results of any situation, but as a writer we must carefully calculate how we control these emotions. The emotions must must always be changing, but in a natural way. We cannot over exaggerate or under estimate the use of emotions in our writing. 

Here’s my advice: when crafting your story follow the pain and follow the pleasure. What brings you pain or pleasure as the writer will also bring the same emotion to your audience. But remember: always do so for a good purpose. Killing a character just for the sake of giving the reader a painful experience is not wise and not advisable. 

I wish you all happy writing.

Thank you for reading, 

 Lalia LaRose

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