Emotional Hooks and Such – The Reader

by | Jan 24, 2011 | Christian authors, Fiction Book Reviews, inspirational fiction | 3 comments

You know it’s true.

The heart of a good story is emotion.

If we can’t evoke emotion in our readers, then there’s a really good chance that story isn’t going to be at the top of anyone’s reading list. Most people pick up a book because it strikes some emotional chord with them.

An interest or curiosity



A romantic twinge

But it all starts and ends with emotion. All types of emotions.

There are readers’ emotions (of course) and there are authors’ emotions.

For the readers, the story must trigger an emotional pull on the back cover or in the first paragraph. Otherwise, the book with land firmly back on the shelf. Here are a few back cover blurbs from popular Inspirational novels:

“Kate Lawrence has everything in place. Everything, that is, but the groom. She might not have a career either, when her nationwide audience finds out their marriage guru has been left at the altar. Enter Lucas Wright, who offers to stand in for the missing husband-to-be and marry her.”

The Convenient Groom by Denise Hunter

What draws us in? What emotion is evoked? Sympathy? Curiosity? And there’s definitely an element of conflict.

How about this one:

Morrow Little…finds herself explicably drawn to a forbidden love that both terrifies and intrigues her. Can she betray the memory of her lost loved ones – and garner suspicion from her friends- by pursuing a life with him?

 –Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz

Conflict again. And what emotion did you feel? The whole ‘forbidden love’ thing edges our curiosity, doesn’t it? There are great words in these sentences: forbidden, terrifies, intrigues, betray, garner, suspicion, and pursue…these are ‘emotive’ words. Important to remember.

Claire Prescott…finds herself holding a lost version of Pride and Prejudice. When a tall, dark, and dashing stranger crosses Claire’s path, will she suddenly discover her inner Lizzie Bennet? Neil’s unexpected arrival in Oxford complicates Claire’s journey to finding her true romantic lead and she discovers that finding the right hero can be more difficult than she ever imagined.”

–          Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo

Intrigue is the key to this one. A lost copy of Pride and Prejudice? A tall, dark, and dashing stranger? Her boyfriend unexpectedly comes to find her in the middle of all this drama? And is there more conflict?

What questions do you leave the reader asking from page number one?

Last one – guess who this one belongs to:

When this shy little bookworm blossoms into a beautiful young woman bent on loving John, she discovers that his past won’t let him return that love. But Lizzie refuses to give up – until his shocking secrets push her away.

No conflict here, right? Again, our emotions are drawn to the mystery, but a goal is set here. We want to cheer for someone with a purpose. Lizzie has a distinct purpose – “loving John”, but the conflict happens with his unwillingness to love her back. WE note her determination to win him, but his ‘secrets’ may be wall that proves much bigger than her purpose. Our emotions want her to succeed.

So what would be one key ingredient to igniting emotion in the readers?


Of some sort.

Can you sum up the conflict in your story into a few sentences? If someone flipped over the back of your book, what conflict might charge their emotional curiosity?

Are you emotionally charged by the story of your heart?

Well, I’ll chat more about the author’s emotions later this week.

AS A BONUS (if you have time)

Here are a few short sentences from my wips:


Sophia meets Ethan Taylor, her contact and a hybrid vampire. Torn between wanting to kill him and the other less hostile feelings, Sophia and Ethan embark on a perilous mission to battle the cult father and a psychotic scientist bent on immortality.  Can Sophia trust her heart to someone who doesn’t have one? Her life to her immortal enemy?

Here To Stay

Betrayed, single-mom Eisley Barrett really doesn’t need romance. She needs to research mysterious truth about her ancestor, write a book about it, and prove to herself she’s worth soemthing – even after her husband traded her in for a newer model. Suspicious of everyone who isn’t a part of his family, the last thing actor, Wes Harrison needs is a visiting houseguest, but Eisley Barrett is nothing like anyone he’s ever known. Can he trust her with is unsavory past? Can she trust him with a broken heart? 

A Twist of Faith

 Dr. Adelina Roseland’s big-university dreams come to a full-stop when she is sent to a tiny town in a crevice of Appalachia. Sent to develop a new program for UVA’s satellite university there, Adelina fights against her own prejudices of the mountain culture. Determined to prove herself and get out of Appalachia forever, Adelina makes a daring wager – but  she didn’t plan for the faith and friction of single-dad  Reece Mitchell. When Reece discovers he’s been a mere pawn in her step up thecorporate ladder, will he be able to forgive her deceit or will their miscommunication end in two broken lives?


  1. Angi Griffis

    Hi Pepper,
    One of my favorite comments is “If a book makes me cry, the author has done their job well”. Of course, I enjoy the funny moments, too. 🙂 Great job on the sentences from your wips. I really want to read Eisley (I LOVE THAT NAME) and Wes’ story. It sounds so good. And I believe that last blurb was from Julie Lessman’s 3rd book if I’m not mistaken. Have a great day tomorrow. 🙂


  2. Kathy Harris

    Such beautiful book covers! Those are enough to draw me in!


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