Why and How to Build Emotion Into Your Idea

by | Jun 29, 2020 | Imagine, Writing

Many book ideas start with the question “What if?” It’s also known as the premise. But what if there was something extra you could add to this to take your idea to a whole new level?

The goal of every writer should be to make your reader FEEL something. It’s the emotion that engages them and draws them in.

Conventional writing processes start with the idea then add the emotion as you go to make the characters or the journey more relatable.

What if you started with the emotion and built it into the premise during the idea phase?

It’s easier than you think and involves asking a different question.

The Emotional Premise Principle

Instead of asking what if, which gives you the base idea the action in your book, change the wording to include an emotion.

I can’t claim credit for this idea. It was something I learned from children’s author Brian Falkner when I heard him speak on a webinar.

I expanded on it and gave it a name; the Emotional Premise Principle (EPP). This principle is something to use in either fiction or non-fiction writing.

The question to ask is “Wouldn’t it be (insert emotion) if (premise)?” For example:

  • Wouldn’t it be funny if the school oval turned to chocolate pudding?
  • Wouldn’t it be exhilarating if you could have any superpower you chose?
  • Wouldn’t it be heartbreaking if you didn’t know how to connect with yourself?
  • Wouldn’t it be scary if you were dealing with addiction?
  • Wouldn’t it be empowering if you found your purpose?

Here are some universal, powerful emotions you can use to build your EPP around:

  1. Love
  2. Fear
  3. Sadness
  4. Regret
  5. Happiness
  6. Surprise
  7. Disgust
  8. Pride
  9. Shame
  10. Anger

If you then combine your EPP with a universal theme that applies cross-culture, you have the beginnings of a formidable book.

What other emotions can you come up with or have used in your books? Please share them below.

Cheers to your writing success!

Leonie