Last Friday, LaDonna blogged about being emotionally affected by movies and books. This reminded me of the segment director James Cameron did on The View. His latest film, Avatar, is the biggest grossing movie of all time. In his interview, he says, “What I go for when I make a movie is an emotional reaction from the audience. I try to go right for the heart.”
That resonated with me. My favorite books and movies go straight for my heart. I’ve said this before, but MARLEY & ME by James Grogan made me laugh a lot, made me cry a lot, and it ended with a chapter that made me laugh a lot again. The perfect book. I wasn’t the only one who loved it. MARLEY spent a loooong time on the NYTimes bestseller list. I can’t find the figures, but I know it was over a year. It spawned a movie and five children’s books on Marley by Grogan. Obviously the emotional aim for the heart worked.
But we can stir emotions with more than laughter and tears. Allison Brennan goes for fear for her characters in hers. Karin Tabke has heart-thumping tension. She gives us in characters in danger, and we want to see them get out of danger. When Michelle Diener’s ILLUMINATIONS comes out in 2011, you’ll see she does the same thing in her historical. She and Karin do this a completely different manner, but the emotional response they’re going for is similar.
I’ve heard writers say that you should know the response before you write it. But sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to write until I start typing. I’m in the revision stage now. This might be a better place to ask myself what I want the reader to feel for each scene. If it’s not written to get that response, I can fix it.
My intent is always to write a great story, with great characters that the reader cares about. My “unsaid” intent is to always go for the heart.
What about you? Is that something you think about before you write the book or the scene? Can you think of a book that made you laugh and cry and your heart pound for the characters?