Readers Have Deep Emotional Expectations


Yes, readers have emotional and spiritual expectations when they purchase your book. Not only are they looking for the escapism-excitement of cliffhanger stories they want to hear, feel, taste, touch and smell the scenes you’re creating. These are the elements where writers either shine brightly or fade quickly. The story and plot pieces cannot carry a book toward the bestselling lists alone. You may recall my mention of Aristotle a couple weeks ago. His philosophical thoughts continue to offer today’s writers a unique perspective on how to enhance the full reality of a character’s experience by adding uniquely descriptive words—even made-up words—from the following categories.

four elements earth fire air water

  • The Earth we walk upon brings us many challenges. Will your characters face a hot, dry, throat parched day? Or will they enjoy a cool, crisp, invigorating day? Must they dig themselves out of 18 inches of wet, heavy snow? Or face an earthquake? Tornado?
  • Water—and having access to clean water—is truly a life or death part of your story whether it is ever mentioned or not. If characters exist in an environment where turning on the faucet and filling the coffee-maker is an every-day occurrence that describes an important part of your story. However, if your character(s) must walk nine miles to reach a well of bitter water, their perspectives (and your reader’s perspective) will be quite different.
  • The Air we breathe might be hot and polluted or cool and clear. Air quality has become a focal point of governments and life-threatening to people/characters with breathing illnesses. Particles in the air can literally “take the breath away” from someone as if a poison gas surrounded them.
  • Fire. Readers can enjoy the cozy fireplace flames with your characters or the campfire nights under a clear star-spangled sky. They can also hear, taste, smell and be touched by the heat that comforts them in winter or the heat of flames that explode in a forest fire or burn a home to the ground. Fire is an element that readers both fear and enjoy.
  • Aristotle’s 5th element of “life” is aether which we identify today as “outer space.” He imagined that the stars and planets, that make up the “heavenly spaces” we see above us, have an effect and affect on our daily lives. Every character you create will looks UP—at some point in their story—and feel or think something that is unique to them. Something that will connect with your readers.


Over the span of the last 40 years I’ve listened to hundreds of writer/speakers in workshops and classrooms as they talked about the usefulness of descriptive writing. They agree upon the absolute need to incorporate the sounds, tastes, textures, smells and emotional elements of the concepts listed above. However, most such lecturers warn writers not to over-do. MY ADVISE is to LET LOOSE and “over-do” with ALL you’ve got—especially as you create the 1st draft of your manuscript. If your desire is to give Readers a story they can “sink their teeth into,” then DO IT with clear, concise, picturesque word choices. The whole concept of descriptive writing is to feed and satisfy the readers’ expectations—allowing them the opportunity to live the lives of the characters. Paint a masterpiece image of the people, places and things that make up your story. Every detail will make your book more interesting and more engaging. THEN, by the time your 2nd book hits the bookstores and online shopping sites, you’ll have created a fan-base for all your future published works! ⚓︎


RoyaleneABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.  

Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

3 thoughts on “Conversations: 1/22/2016

  1. Royalene, I love to write descriptively but have had editors and mentors advise otherwise. My guess is there must be a particular way to achieve beautiful imagery or evoke feelings in such in a way to enrich rather than overload the readers’ senses. I wish I knew exactly what it was.

    1. Robyn, that’s definitely food for thought. Perhaps we can circle back around to the notion of evocative imagery in a future post!

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