There have been a few posts lately about emotions in writing. More to the point: emotional impact or, as I like to put it scenes that make me grab a box of Kleenex!
Stephanie Kallos' Broken for You - do not read this book, at least the last 1/3 without at least two boxes of Kleenex nearby, and maybe a third for good measure. I cried my ass (well, not technically, but . . . ) off when reading the last 1/3 of this book. I called my friend who loaned me the book and said couldn't you give a guy some warning. The author - Stephanie Kallos in case you missed it the first time - somehow drew me so totally into the story, that by the time the last 1/3 of the book came around, there wasn't a chance in Hades of a dry eye. Not a chance, people. The characters were so well written, the plot so crafted, the inner demons of the characters so well portrayed, that the tears flowed easily . . . and naturally. The pain, the love, the emotional impact were out of this world.
I love that kind of emotional impact.
The best thing I've read about such emotional impact (sorry, don't know where, one of the blogs I follow) was not to put tears in your characters eyes, but to put the tears in your readers' eyes. Stephanie Kallos accomplished this big time.
Now, I make myself cry with my writing all the time . . . in a good way, people, though there was that one time . . . My current project is full of emotional impact . . .well, at least for me. I don't aim for the tears, the chance to make a reader cry, I just aim for the depth of emotions my characters need in a certain place/time. Without that depth of emotion, the scene is most likely going to fall flat.
In my current WIP, the emotions are flowing. Perhaps it is because I'm drawing so much on my past and changing events through the what if game, or perhaps it is because I have invested these characters with enough emotions that they are visible in the scenes I write.
Now, the big question: will the emotional impact remain when somebody else reads the rough draft? Hopefully . . . YES! If not, back to the drawing board.
My main point is: I don't sit down and say I'm going to write this really great emotional scene that is going to make my multitude of readers cry. I sit down and write. I write to the best of my ability and don't focus on whether a reader will cry or not, or whether the reader might laugh or not. I cannot do that. I can only write to the best of my ability and hope that the emotions that are conveyed to me in a particular scene are also conveyed to a reader.
Lastly, some ideas about emotional impact. Confrontation - anger, rage, the past rushing forward to the present, the insecurities of childhood brought to the forefront in an argument, and so much more. Two siblings - grown adults - fighting over something. Two people, desperately in love, unable to work things out and realizing that they're better off apart than together. A young woman fighting with her mother over something stupid and saying horrible things that can never, never be taken back. The mother, smiling at her daughter and saying I love you. An epileptic young man, has a seizure and knocks his mother across the room - later, after the seizure is over, the man consumed by guilt, and the mother smiles and says It's all right! Unconditional love right there! Emotional Impact!
So, how do you deal with emotional impact in your writing? Do you plan out the scenes? Do you outline the emotional moments of your manuscript? Do you just let those scenes happen?