The biggest part of reading is the emotions you feel. A lot of writers take pleasure in forcing horrible, gut-wrenching feelings on their readers, but it’s not always easy to know what’ll hit them. In fact, some writers try to write an effective scene, but it comes to no impact because they’ve set nothing up beforehand.
Adding emotions is more than in the moment.
Making your characters realistic is one of the most important parts of conveying emotion. If your readers can’t connect to your characters, they won’t care about them, and if they don’t care about them, it’s not going to matter one way or another what the characters are going through.
Giving your characters desperate, difficult to reach motives is a strong way to depress your readers. Even if they aren’t the protagonist, when a character has trouble obtaining something they care about, it’s depressing. It’s discouraging.
Another route to go would be to hide your character’s motive. When you read a character as apathetic for the majority of the story and then you realize why they’re around in the first place, it has the potential to be heartbreaking.
Making your characters real and unique is the most obvious way to set up later scenes. You should be doing this anyway, so why not put it to your advantage?
Slowly reveal your characters and every once in a while, throw in a really endearing trait. This makes it near impossible for your readers not to care what happens.
In the moment
Maybe it seems obvious to you, what to do when it’s time to write something really sad, but when something seems obvious to you, it usually means it isn’t the best route to go. When something’s obvious to you, it’s likely obvious to everyone else, too. That means predictable, bland, and even enough for someone to close the book.
Doses of strong emotion
In The Finest Trick, I have a character that’s initially portrayed as an asshole. He’s impulsive, he’s arrogant, and he has anger issues. But as he gets close with another main character, there’s very brief scenes sprinkled around that show off his more hidden away, endearing qualities.
Giving them out in doses is so much more effective than throwing it all out at once.
If your book is the kind where people die, this is one of your greatest tools for emotion ((that doesn’t mean it should be used over and over again)).
If you’re planning on killing off a character, do it in the middle of something. In the middle of a plan, before they can finish their goal they were dead-set on, even before they can finish their character arc ((but only if the ending of their character arc was clear, otherwise it’ll come across as incomplete)).
Sudden information hurts because you aren’t expecting it. When you drop a bomb on your reader- Whether it be new information, a character death, or a plot twist -it’ll likely take them, and your characters, a bit to recover from it.