By B.K. Bass
One of the primary objectives of any kind of storytelling is to invoke an emotional reaction from the audience. The methods and results of this might be painfully clear in some situations, such as a love story or a tragedy. In other situations, such as an action-adventure story, this might not be as clear. Think back though to the last flashy action movie you watched. Consider that big, climactic battle or chase scene. Were you excited? Were you anticipating the outcome of the situation and what those results might mean for the characters? That, too, is an emotional reaction. Even the goofiest comedy invokes an emotion: joy. You don’t have to end the journey crying or longing for love to have your emotions prodded by a story, and as a writer you don’t have to focus on these two things to get an emotional reaction from your audience.
A lot of what I write, despite the particulars of genre, can fall under the general umbrella of the action-adventure story. Even in these there is a cycle of tension and release that plays with the audience’s emotions. Two warriors clash with sword and shield, death just one misstep away. A police officer races through the streets to apprehend a fugitive, but will he catch them? A thief balances carefully on a ledge, the town guards just below him. People talk a lot about pouring your own emotions into your work, but you can play emotions like the strings of a guitar with pacing, tone, mystery, and danger. That’s what I usually do.
There are those situations where we pour everything into our writing. Phebe Yawson’s She Cried Wolf is a fantastic example of this. I was privileged to be the developmental editor for this book, so I went on Tyese’s journey with her and saw the raw emotion Phebe had poured into this book. It was striking how powerful some scenes were, and they echo with me to this day. I think you get to know Phebe more following Tyese’s story, because I could tell that she poured a lot of her own personal experiences and emotions into the book.
I mentioned that I usually write an action-adventure, and rather than pouring emotions into the story I fine tune narrative aspects with the calculated intent of affecting the reader’s emotions. There’s one exception to this, and that’s my upcoming post-apocalyptic novel, What Once Was Home. This book and She Cried Wolf couldn’t be more different from one another at first glance, but when you dig down into the emotions that lie under the settings, plots and characters; you find they are very similar.
There’s a lot of shared themes between these books, and loss stands out as the strongest connecting thread. Loss of innocence, loss of home, loss of loved ones. Like I suspect Phebe did, I took many of my own experiences and emotions and used them to stoke the fires of creativity when I wrote What Once Was Home. Like Tyese’s story, Jace’s is a personal one where the main character must come to grips with repeated adversity and loss. Despite these obstacles, they both persevere. They grow and become more than they were, and they seek to discover a way to preserve some shred of purity within themselves even though they are faced with difficult decisions. How each of them approaches these obstacles, and the results of their decisions, are different.
She Cried Wolf is a contemporary paranormal fantasy book full of magic, monsters, and focusing on family bonds. What Once Was Home is a post-apocalyptic military science fiction book with aliens, armies, and focusing on the importance of community. But, at the core of both She Cried Wolf and What Once Was Home, these are stories of what the human heart can endure.
Click here to find out more about Phebe Yawson’s She Cried Wolf, and B.K. Bass’ What Once Was Home.
About the Author
B.K. Bass is an author of science fiction, fantasy, and horror inspired by the pulp fiction magazines of the early 20th century and classic speculative fiction. He is a student of history with a particular focus on the ancient, classical, and medieval eras. He has a lifetime of experience with a specialization in business management and human relations and served in the U.S. Army. B.K. is also the Acquisitions Director for Kyanite Publishing, the Editor-in-Chief of the Kyanite Press journal of speculative fiction, and the Writing Department Chair for Worldbuilding Magazine.