You have completed a draft of an article, but it seems flat
and lifeless, even to you. It needs to have the spark that
ignites that all important emotional connection to your
readers but you are at a loss as to how to spruce it up.
Breathing life into a nonfiction article is tough Especially
if it doesn't include a character or an emotional story
If you have written the article from your own personal
experience, perhaps you have already included emotionally
charged language. Then all you need to do is ask, "Does the
article have enough emotionally charged language to touch my
readers, to pull them in, to keep them reading, to move them
to action or possibly a conclusion?"
Why would you even want to add emotion to a nonfiction
article Adding emotion to your writing, any type of
writing, fuels the reader's attention, helps them connect
with the action. It gives the reader an experience.
Experience is why people go to the movies or watch TV. More
importantly, it keeps them reading.
What does emotionally charged mean exactly? Emotionally
charged means using language that stirs the reader in some
form. When and how frequently emotions need to occur depends
on your article's subject, tone, and angle. Yes, even tone
matters in a nonfiction article. Is it to be terse,
confident, or are you talking as an expert? Maybe it's a
learning tone? From a previous student now teacher. An
informing tone, usually overused in nonfiction, turns off
readers if used consistently, like in a column, or multiple
articles, on your web site, or in a newsletter.
Step 1: Find the Emotion
Begin by defining what main emotion you want the reader to
feel or to understand. Were you peeved about something and
it set off the writing of an article Maybe you see a wrong
and want to set the record straight, or to convey a
different truth, one from your perspective. Is it compassion
oriented or spiritually based? Maybe you want to convey an
inspirational or motivating tone. Is it love that you want
to convey? Love for a topic. Love for a hobby or something
you're passionate about. Your love, someone else's, the
world's, how much love do you want to send out?
You can limit the number of emotions according to the word
count. Here's a common calculation: <600 one emotion. <1200
two. >1800 three or four.
You can choose the emotion you want before the first draft.
Yet, many writers, including this writer, prefer to add
emotion during the second draft or first edit.
Close your eyes and feel your own inner self on your topic.
Find the emotion, the tone, give it one or two words, and
then write it in the article's margin for easy access. If
it's a personal experience, think back to that time,
reconnect with that emotion. Did you feel numb, affection,
anguish, excitement, shame, guilt, remorse, violent? How
One of the many reasons I love writing marketing articles is
because I see so much misinformation on the topic and it
riles my feathers. When this occurs, I write from this
emotion and that language naturally flows into the article.
Since this isn't the emotion I want to convey to my readers,
I rewrite a second draft in the emotion that I truly want to
convey. Usually, from a more loving and patient perspective.
What did you hear, smell, touch, see or even taste during
the experience? If you personally didn't experience what you
are writing about, do you know someone who did? Ask them to
share their emotions with you. Put words to those feelings.
The taste language doesn't necessarily have to be food
related either. Your lips could be dry. You're tongue can
taste like you just liked a stamp. Relate the taste to
something that the readers can understand because they have
experienced it as well. We've all licked a stamp sometime in
our life and remember the icky dull bad breath feeling it
left on our tongue. My face is curling up just thinking
about that taste.
Another way to find the emotion is to relate the article,
topic, to music. Does it remind you of a fox trot, waltz,
rock and roll, jazz, R&B, what? It could even remind you of
a particular song. Can you access the song, or remember the
lyrics? Musically lyrics are great places to find emotional
words and language.
Step 2: Connecting
Close your eyes, sit quietly with the article. Sense
yourself reading the article in your mind. No, not the
identical words but the idea, the vision, the thoughts. If
that's a challenge, read the article out loud, very softly,
as if reading it to an angel. Even notice where you take
breaths. These are places where new paragraphs begin, commas
or periods needs to occur. If you run out of breath, maybe
the sentence needs dividing, eliminated, or even combined.
You can even tape record your reading. Listen with your eyes
closed. This is also a great way to hear the flat places in
the article. Identify the emotion from what you hear.
Record all the emotional words you hear or feel in the
margins. Every word is right, so don't miss any. Place all
judgment in a shoe box for now.
Step 3: Adding In The Emotion
Review your words. Brainstorm with a thesaurus, synonym
finder, or dictionary. Online resources you can use:
Continue your list in the margins. Now its time, before the
editing process to add in the emotion. If the first draft is
very dry, this is a good time to realize that it's not
uncommon for writers to rewrite the article completely
because the emotion conveyed was too far off at the
beginning. If this is the case, consider the first draft a
brain dump, a warm up session. And now you're ready to roll.
Your hot, the feelings are sizzling.
Step 4: Editing
Usually, editing is to help clarity and tighten. Caution
though, it is easy to remove the emotionally charged
elements that you painstakingly added. Sometimes, when using
an outside editor, someone that doesn't hold the same
emotions as you, they remove the emotions. And sometimes
too, there are too many emotions. There is a delicate
balance. However, many editors walk this tightrope carefully
and with honor.
Most writing needs energy and emotion that conveys the
story, the information, so as not to put the reader to
sleep. Or even worse, stop them from reading. And your
passion is what needs conveyed from you to them. Watch the
magic when you read someone else's material that conveys
emotions. See how they use the words.
When I'm in the flow, I feel the emotion pushing the pen as
fast it can across the paper. I know, through experience,
when this is occurring and I'm writing so fast, I have a
tendency to leave words out. I use to stop at the end of
every paragraph and reread and add them. Don't, let the flow
occur. Trust that whatever is needed will again be there for
you to filling in any missing blanks. Let the magic come
through. Your readers desire it.
Special Note: An accompanying list of emotionally-charged
words is available in the Abundance Center's Forms Section.
Catherine Franz, business and writing coach, resides in
Virginia and is a syndicated columnist, radio producer and
host of the "Let's Talk Marketing" show, International
speaker, and author. Ezines and other articles: