Intensity in Your Writing…
In the Point of View online workshop, in the last week of the class, I mention in passing a major area of fiction writing that is never taught. Intensity.
And the reason this area is never taught is because of the advanced nature of it. In fact, most writers never notice it until long into their career. And never really know how to work it for the longest time.
But when realizing there are readers on the other side of every story, one goal of the mind control of readers is to play on their emotions. To even understand that your words will generate emotions.
Emotions are not one-size fits all. All emotions have intensity levels you can play with to hold readers (if you understand what you are doing).
So let me try to explain here as basically as I can what I even mean by intensity in writing. And that you can control intensity in your writing given enough time and practice.
Take the master of fear, Stephen King. Fear has an intensity around the emotion. And there are a bunch of types of fear, from panic to dread to uncertainty and everything in-between.
Take dread, one small area of fear which is just one emotion readers feel.
If it is a common emotion for readers, then you can play on the emotion to hold them in a book.
How? Think of it this way… Give the emotion of dread a scale from one to ten. One being not noticing dread, ten being intense dread. Think of it as a toggle switch you can dial up or down from one to ten. (Again if you know what you are doing and have the control in your writing.)
King can bring a reader into a character, introduce a situation where the reader is invested in the character (depth) and then King slowly toggles up the dread factor over a period of time in the book until the reader can feel it with almost every paragraph.
That is control. King has it. (Those King readers out there know exactly what I am talking about.)
All major, long-term stage-four writers have this control, better is some areas than others. King is the best with dread and fear, but also a master in many other areas of human emotions.
Dialing up and down intensity in your writing is a technique that can be learned. But before you can even start learning how to do this purposefully in a story, you have to understand this intensity factor even exists in writing.
Another example: Romance. The emotions of lust or attraction or love, just to name a few inside the romance area. Each area can be, with control, toggled up or down in a story. Top romance writers are masters of using intensity in their stories to control the readers.
For romance readers, just the fear of loss is a major intensity tool to hold readers in a story. Toggling that fear of loss up as a story goes on can be amazingly powerful and very useful to learn.
Toggling up the intensity of the attraction emotion as a romance book goes on is another tool.
Intensity in fiction is sometimes subtle, sometimes right in a reader’s face. But intensity in everything is critical in holding readers into stories. When there is no intensity, readers put books down. They say “It was flat.” Or “The story didn’t hold me.”
Those kind of responses come not because you plotted something wrong, but because you didn’t dial up or down the required intensity levels at the right time in a story or novel.
Readers expect intensity and are always disappointed when they don’t get it at the expected levels. As readers, you know I am right.
And most writers early on don’t even know intensity exists in story. It’s usually just something we all do early on by accident.
But this area is learnable and teachable. We haven’t tried to put anything together on it yet, but have it on a list for a possible future workshop, mostly because it would be fun for me to put together. (Got to keep myself entertained you know.)
So just wanted to do a passing glance at a major area of writing, an awareness blog if you will.