What makes a great writer? Simple. The ability for a writer to evoke strong emotions in the reader. This is what the writer strives to do as he or she pours words onto a page. It is the second goal of a writer, to evoke a strong emotional response from the reader. The first goal of the writer is to write his or her heart’s desire (not to let others dictate what should be written). And in obtaining the first goal, the second goal can be realized. This happens because the writer truly feels the words and what’s being said, which is passed onto the reader. One of the best ways to write with emotional depth and with true desire is to tap into old memories, letting them loose onto the page.
Memories connect each of us to the past, present, and future. They make us who we are and who we will be, and memories hold our deepest emotions ready to be tapped at any moment. If we use our own memories and emotions to paint pictures and relay information to the reader, then he or she can relate to what’s being said. In fact, many times a reader will pull up their own emotions in that similar moment and relive them as they are reading the story. Or the reader will see their own memories flash before their eyes as they read. When this happens, it pulls the reader even deeper into the story and makes it that much more real to him or her. Once this happens, the emotional response is strong.
Not every person has the same experiences. That’s what makes us all unique and individual. But there are consistencies like: the first day of kindergarten, a first love, going to college, first day at a job, or simply taking a hike through the woods. Many memories can be evoked in many different ways. Some memories are stronger than others and some are more private than others, but they all have meaning and emotion. And can be used by the writer to get down deep within and pull out some very powerful stuff.
What if the reader has never experienced what you have experience? Will they still feel a connection? Will there still be a strong emotional response? Yes. Have you ever heard the expression? “Write what you know.” This is what it’s all about. It’s not necessarily about writing about what you do like being a photographer, or being a mom. It’s about those emotions and experiences. Write about those, and the reader will feel what it’s like and experience it through your eyes.
How can you write about memories in fictional work? Change the names. Change the circumstance. But you can still keep the essence of the memory and the emotions tied into it. Remember how it felt to climb a mountain, the first time behind the wheel of a car, the feel of your stomach as a roller coaster dips deep into a downward spiral? It’s these moments that can be transferred and used to create a powerful story.
Want to be a great writer? Fill the page with memories. Let the world see your experiences and feel your emotions. In doing so, you will remind the reader of their own experiences. Readers want to escape into a world they can understand and feel. What better way to do that than give them an experience they won’t soon forget.