[Tipster] The Emotional Journey

tipster post Oct 15, 2021

In this edition of Tipster, we discuss the emotional journey of the narrative arc. 

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the narrative arc, the journey that you, as a writer, take your reader on.

Whether you're writing an article or a book, you begin in one place and take your reader to another.

Last night, I watched a video of David Bowie singing "Heroes," a classic example of an emotional arc.

The video is a live version, and Bowie starts the song standing in front of the mic, with little emotion. He almost appears disinterested in what he is singing.

The song starts deceptively slow. The band is barely background noise, setting a quiet tempo as Bowie begins.

About a third of the way through, the electric guitar emerges and chases Bowie's voice in a haunting melodic siren. 

The song begins to build and ultimately crescendos with the repeated phase:

  We can be Heroes
  We can be Heroes
  We can be Heroes

Bowie has just taken you on a journey that makes you wish you had brought your bic lighter. By the end, unless you're an emotional mutant, you are completely undone.

"Heroes" is an anthem like no other. The emotional build is more than just inspirational; it makes you want to cry out.

The Takeaway

Your writing is not just a rational argument of this or that. Or mere explanation of information.

Your writing must move the reader. Make her cry. Make him laugh. Raise her spirits. Prompt her to reach for her bic lighter.

What is the promise of what you're writing? And how can you take the reader on such a journey that when she comes to the end of the article or book, she wants more.

Not all writing can be that inspirational, of course. But as you sketch out the structure of whatever you're writing, map out the emotion, not just the information.