Image by on Freepik

Authors are supposed to elicit emotions from their readers. However, writing about longing is the most confusing emotion to write about.

One way for stories to become successful is if it allows readers to feel. Whether it’s a happy feeling or one that tears their hearts and minds to bits and pieces, emotions play a big part in making stories engaging and impactful. However, they also pose trouble for most authors.

Everyone feels.

Emotions are something that everyone experiences, ever-present in anyone who breathes. But regardless of how these surges within, not everyone is equipped to talk about them. This is why writing about any type of emotion can be challenging. How do you write about it without being straightforward and telling about it?

Making Readers Feel Emotions, a Power Authors Have

Readers read to be transported to a world brimming with emotion. Good usage and the means to express emotions attach readers to a story. This is why there’s a good emphasis on narratives showing, not telling. Readers must be allowed to develop a response to the story without telling them exactly what to feel. This is what makes them more invested.

Whatever it may be, readers pick up books to feel something. Hence, it should be within every author’s scope to know how to stir people’s emotions. Stories exist to elicit emotions. However, the capacity to do so lies in the authors’ ability to use details and the right words.

Thrillers do better with narratives that have a darker undertone. Horrors use a more harrowing pace. Romance uses flowery and poetic words. Thrilled. Devastated. Anxious. Terrified. Everything a story evokes depends on how well the narratives have been crafted.

However, with all the emotions to bring out, the feeling of missing someone is the most challenging.

After all, how do you show you’re missing someone without telling?

The Difference Between Yearning and Wanting

In stories, every character longs for something. They all want to achieve a goal, yearning for something they have yet to claim and experience. Hence, there should be little complication regarding writing about longing, right?


Longing isn’t the same as wanting.

Writing about longing should be deeper, especially in romance stories. There’s a distinction between writing about longing in terms of goals and the yearning for someone. This is especially important to recognize because it reflects the words authors would have to use.

This distinction is best reflected in The Tangled Web, a suspense story about a long-lost lover by Cheryl J. Corriveau. While the book may seem like a romance, given that it involves a woman mourning her husband’s death, it’s predominantly a thriller weaving a number of mysteries together.

Given the plot’s nature, the author evidently shifts between writing about longing and grief and writing about a yearning to find truth in the situation. Readers can see the difference between how Cheryl uses and plays around with her narratives, portraying the importance of words in a story’s delivery.

Writing About Longing Without Saying the Words “I Miss You”

So, how can writing about longing be successful in terms of romantic stories?

The answer is simple. Like any other emotion, turn the feeling into action. This goes back to the basic ideology that authors must show the physical manifestation of the emotion rather than tell what the character is feeling.

Longing is an intense desire for someone absent. If the character is reminded of the person they’re missing, it causes agitation and a more profound sense of discomfort. This emotion is especially triggering if the characters’ connection is more profound than usual. Writing about longing becomes a way for authors to create complex characters who express this yearning while striving to fill the emptiness in their hearts.

The most helpful way to show this emotion is by giving the character a tell. Show how the emotion is physically burdening and affecting them. What do they do whenever they remember the person? How do they ease the longing whenever it surges? Allowing the readers to go through this whole emotional cycle increases their investment in the story and empathy toward the character.

Making the Whole Story Reflect the Emotion

Authors don’t always have to focus on the character when conveying an emotion in their narratives. Instead, they can maximize their control over everything. From crafting situations where characters find themselves to painting an atmosphere that reflects emotion, writing about longing takes much more than the characters expressing it.

Authors can play around with the setting and encounters in which their characters are placed. Let them be triggered to bring out the emotion. Allow them to reminisce and call back memories about the person they’re yearning for. There’s beauty in writing about the emotion because it offers multiple opportunities to evoke and convey it. Writing about longing becomes a playground of emotions for authors.

Skip to content