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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is a partial repost from my blog:

There was a guy in my woodworking class who was using the band sander the other day. But suddenly, his finger got caught and was forced through the tiny crack between the metal slot and the blazingly fast sandpaper. The tip of his finger was ripped off almost instantly. You could almost hear his screams from outside the building.

Not a very pretty story, but more to the point, I'd be willing to bet you couldn't help but wince a little as you read that. Even though you know nothing about the guy (not even his name), you could still relate to him, because you can imagine how painful it would be to have your finger violently ripped off by some sandpaper. By the way, that's a true story. It really did happen to a guy I once knew in woodshop, way back in Jr. High.

This makes me wonder, are characters really as important as we believe them to be? After all, when we write from a character's point of view, what we actually want is for the reader to put themselves in the character's shoes and imagine it was happening to them.

Why is it so important that we have believable characters? I guess it's because we want our readers to relate to them, right? We want our readers to feel the emotions our characters feel, such as pain and happiness. But does having a believable character make it easier for our readers to feel emotions, or does having the reader feel emotions create a believable character in their mind?

I don't know. But how do we make our readers feel emotions? It's a tricky proposition to be sure. And I'm not sure what the answer is. But it may not be as hard as we think it is.
Creating an emotional experience is such a difficult concept. I suppose the easiest way to go about doing is to have a clear idea beforehand WHAT emotion you want to convey to your reader before you write.

I've actually posted my thoughts on how one would go about creating a strong emotional experience for their readers, including a few tips for quickly creating conflict. But it's a bit too lengthy (keyword: boring) to post in full length here. If you want, the full post is here: The Emotional Experience Readers Crave and How to Give It to Them

But anyway, how do you create believable characters/a powerful emotional experience for your readers?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
JRTomlin said:
My aim isn't to create an emotional experience. It's to tell a good story, and yes, I believe that well-defined characters are essential for telling a good story.

Maybe you don't need that for a single paragraph. For a novel of 100,000 words? Yes, you need something more than a wince.
Okay, so how do you do that?
 
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