If we don’t feel emotion for our characters then we won’t care about their stories. And if we don’t care about their stories we won’t care about the ideas they espouse.
This is simple to understand but difficult to achieve.
Simple, because if we come to feel for the characters in a story we will come to care about their fate, and the overarching meaning of the tale. Difficult, because it takes great skill to find the right words to pull this off.
“Emotion shines a light on ignorance and prejudice. It helps uncover the truth hiding behind character action.”
Primarily interested in communicating lofty, existential, philosophical concepts about the nature of reality and the human condition? Then write an article for a philosophy or psychology journal. Don’t focus solely on turning your characters into vehicles for conveying ideas. If you do, you will lessen their impact on readers and audiences.
Emotion that supports profound insight, however, makes a story unforgettable. Consider the following passages:
“Leaning against my father, the sadness finally broke open inside me, hollowing out my heart and leaving me bleeding. My feet felt rooted in the dirt. There were more than two bodies buried here. Pieces of me that I didn’t even know were under the ground. Pieces of dad, too.” ― Laurie Halse Anderson, The Impossible Knife of Memory.
”For a moment the world seems balanced on the edge of love and hate—but only for a moment, for how can I ever forget the timeless chats under the stars sitting on my father’s knee, the rocket ships rendered out of wood and paint punching through the golden light of endless afternoons, the stories read to me with such care and patience by my mother whose warm breath I’d feel against my cheek?” —Stavros Halvatzis, The Nostalgia of Time Travel.
“Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s was worth a pocket watch.” ― Ruta Sepetys, Between Shades of Gray.
“Sometimes pain is so unmanageable that the idea of spending another day with it seems impossible. Other times pain acts as a compass to help you through the messier tunnels of growing up. But pain can only help you find happiness if you remember it.”
― Adam Silvera, More Happy Than Not.
Moving, insightful, stuff and a reminder to writers that insight and emotion go hand in hand.
If your readers and audiences feel emotion in the stories you write, they will care about the characters and ideas you espouse.