Jan 13, 2012

Book Review: Writing for Emotional Impact

First book review! So, feeling my way here. Be patient!

Title:  Writing for Emotional Impact: Advanced dramatic techniques to attract, engage, and fascinate the reader from beginning to end
Author: Karl Iglesias
Published: 2005 by WingSpan Press

Reasons I purchased:
  • Recommended by a trusted source
  • Screenwriting book -- I'm into these lately, thinking of them more as STORYTELLING books 
  • Subject -- Emotion is a tricksy beast that is hard for me to verbalize.
  • Many good reviews on Amazon
Since I've started reading craft books, new insights have trickled off. That first book on writing is jam packed with new and exciting information. The second book(and every book after that) tends to say the same thing in a different way, and that can be helpful at the start too -- when you hit on the wording that makes sense to you. But the epiphanies trickle off fairly quickly. I'm 20-some craft books into my writing education, and this book was full of epiphanies. The difference is: WfEI = Film School, basic craft books = High School Drama class.

If it only contained Chapter Six -- Story: Rising Tension, it would still have been worth the full price. Ever been torn between how to reveal something big in your story? Should the reader know before the character? Should they find out at the same time? Should the character know something the reader doesn't? Chapter Six will help you decide, first by explaining what each of these situations do to the reader, and the pros and cons of each so you can decide what is best for your story.

Chapter Ten -- Dialogue: Vivid Voices, another chapter worth the cost of the book.

Other chapters include help for:
  • Refining your concept
  • Fascinating the reader
  • Creating compelling characters
  • Understanding subtext and its importance
  • Description: how a few of the right words can go a long way
  • What a Theme is, and why it's important
  • The difference between Plot and Story
  • How to craft brilliant scenes
  • The last piece of the Conflict equation so often overlooked by beginning writers. (Hint: It's more than 'Two dogs, one bone.')
I know I have a tendency to gush over craft books, but I really can't say enough good things about this one. Within the last month I also read Story, by Robert McKee, and while I will say is brilliant, is also very difficult read. Very thick. Difficult to understand. I got way more out of Writing for Emotional Impact. It's littered with examples and will be a mainstay on my keeper shelf. I don't think I could even loan it out yet. I might NEED IT.


  1. Sounds like a good one Amalie, will have to pick it up! Got a few on order, but will def read this first!

    1. If your other craft books are from the beginning books(with explanations on 3Act structure and the like) I'd start with them and read this one second. But if you get it, let me know how it goes! I think it's awesome but that's one chick's opinion.

  2. I am not usually into craft books (they make my head hurt!), but you've done such a good job with this review it makes me want to buy it! :)

    1. Haha! Thank you. I am unaffiliated with the author, though if enough people take the reference and buy it, I'm so asking the dude for a pony. :)


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