5 Ways to Infuse Your Story with Gripping Emotion (Part 3.1): Strategies to Pour on The Pain

5 Ways to Infuse Your Story (3.1) Title Pic

A hallmark of bestselling novels is the constant suffering by (or threat of suffering to) the main characters.

The general rule of thumb to follow: Happy characters often equal unhappy readers. 

Admittedly, if readers care about characters, they want the characters to achieve small wins throughout the story and the ultimate “big” win(s) at the end of the story. The secret is threading these “wins” into a flowing tapestry of pain, danger, threat, loss and disaster.

Bestselling novels contain many forms of pain you can use in your own short stories, scripts and novels. While not an exhaustive list, consider the following strategies as valuable guidelines as you Pour on the Pain in your own work:

  1. Interrupt/upset the life or routine of a character
  2. Betrayal by trusted friend, colleague or family member
  3. Shocking revelation that changes or colors a long-held character belief
  4. Block or impediment to character reaching a goal
  5. Professional Loss (job, career, skill set, etc)
  6. Legal Loss (criminal charges, arrest, etc)
  7. Emotional Loss (friend, family member, love, hope, trust, confidence)
  8. Physical Loss (loss of health, injury, sickness, disease, death)
  9. Mental Loss (memory, understanding, belief)
  10. Spiritual Loss (loss of faith)
  11. Settings that impede/block/halt the character from reaching goal
  12. Time limit on reaching minor or major goals in the story
  13. Any shock, twist or surprise
  14. Any complication
  15. Any form of conflict
  16. A proactive, determined and formidable adversary

Again, this list (and probably no list) can capture every tactic for injecting pain into a story. However, I hope this list generates ideas on how to infuse gripping emotion into every page of your current project by Pouring on the Pain.

Remember, a happy character usually means an unhappy reader.

Happy Character Pic


Christopher Kokoski is a speaker, trainer and author of Wicker Hollow and the Past Lives novel series.

Posted in Uncategorized
2 comments on “5 Ways to Infuse Your Story with Gripping Emotion (Part 3.1): Strategies to Pour on The Pain
  1. Aisha Q says:

    Dear Christopher. This blog is perfect for me and feel it will get me out of my ‘writers block’ kind of moods. I am currently writing a story and need these kinds of tips to ensure it’s a good one so thank you for sharing! 😀

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