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Writing for Emotional Impact: Advanced Dramatic Techniques to Attract, Engage, and Fascinate the Reader from Beginning to End

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  426 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Karl Iglesias breaks new ground by focusing on the psychology of the reader. Based on his acclaimed classes at UCLA Extension, Writing for Emotional Impact goes beyond the basics and argues that Hollywood is in the emotion-delivery business, selling emotional experiences packaged in movies and TV shows. Iglesias not only encourages you to deliver emtional impact on as many ...more
Paperback, 238 pages
Published September 22nd 2005 by WingSpan Press (first published September 1st 2005)
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K.A. Merikan
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm still reading it, but I'm already giving it 5* because it's just so great. To the point, well written and full of concrete advice and analysis.
I see my books very much like movies, so this is just what I needed.

ETA: Very useful, inspiring, made me rethink some writing theory
Bayard West
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If I were stranded on a desert island with a typewriter and paper, this is the book I'd want to help me in my writing. This book is for screenwriting, but I found most of it applied to writing novels as well.

Iglesias takes the challenge of making you a better writer head on. He starts out with that promise and delivers. His intent is to help you write scene by scene, paragraph by paragraph in such a way that no one could set your book down. He shows you how to ensure the reader cares about your
Jessi Clark-white
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-writers
As an aspiring novelist I have a decent library of books on the craft, and most of them are helpful in a tangential sort of way. They are more like attending a motivational speech: they give you a rush of inspiration and positive energy, but a week later it's gone.

I'd resorted to a DIY approach to building stories and characters. I would collect my favorite TV shows, movies, and novels, and try to figure out what made certain stories or characters compelling. I made lists and it was the most
Kali Srikanth
Mar 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Screenwriters, Novelists
Recommended to Kali by: Gopi Mohan
“I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand".

Posed as advanced book on writing it's surely Powerful, Inspiring and immensely helpful. But its worth is more proved only when the techniques and tools prescribed in it are put to use in our own scripts.

4/5. Detailed review to follow.
Anyta Sunday
Sep 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Re-read a few chapters of this today. Yes, it's designed for screen-writing, but so much of what makes for dramatic scenes can apply to novel writing too!

I loved this tip for learning how to Show (not tell) emotion, and I'm going to try it: Watch silent movies. How do the scenes work to portray the emotion without ever stating it outright?
Mimic in own writing.

Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
There's some solid advice for writers. Much of it wasn't necessarily new, but presented in new ways. I particularly enjoyed the piece about subtext. The author's explanation and examples really showed me how subtext can make the difference between good and great dialogue.
Feb 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
Writing For Emotional Impact is another storytelling and writing guide, different from most only in terms of its angle. It is aimed at screenwriters, but a lot of the first part of the book applies to stories in general.

I'm not sure this dude is the right person to be telling us how to create emotions in readers, though. Like the majority of screenwriting guys who write how-to guides, readers will have to power through stereotyped gems such as:

'Every woman in the world puts on makeup, but how
Mark Hems
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The author’s experience really shines through in this great guide to improving your screenplay writing. It’s crammed with examples from a wide array of scripts, which again goes to demonstrate that you are in good hands. Though aimed at improving screenplays through increasing emotional impact, I think this is just as applicable to novels and I’ll be putting many of the tips into practice in the next draft of my novel.
Voss Foster
DNF - For me, the issue is that I'm not a screenwriter. The techniques in the book are certainly workable for an author of novels as well, but to get to them, you have to swim through scads of screenwriting anecdotes and terminology and maxims which it's assumed you know and understand already.

If you're a screenwriter, absolutely check this out. If you're hoping to borrow techniques to write your novels...your mileage may vary.
Really good full of fabulous tips and information

Not just for scriptwriters writers too. Would recommend this book for anyone struggling with a Masters. In creative writing. Well worth the money
Cole Simmons
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
There's a reason this book is so highly reviewed. While it doesn't cover things like structure, it goes into depth on more advanced topics and techniques that can add more impact to characters/scenes/plots/etc. It'll be a great reference going forward.
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good, solid advice.

My editor assigned me this book when my first and second drafts were flat. Using some of these tips dramatically improved drafts 3 and 4, and isn't that the true measure of a how-to book on writing?
Marcia Abboud
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Amazing insight on how to write to engage your reader at their heart and soul. Brilliant book!
Sue Lilley
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent guide for fiction authors as well as screenwriters.
James Cardona
Nov 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
I would give this book 3 stars but am adding an additional star mainly because I am not the target audience and then am giving some benefit of the doubt.
I am a fiction writer and this book is aimed at screenplay writers but I thought I'd give it a whirl.
The book promises to not talk about basics and only more advanced topics. What I found was that most of the lessons seemed very obvious to me, so I am wondering what about them is not basic. There are a few gems mixed in, however, and I
Although this book is aimed at screenwriters, most of the advice also applies to novelists. I read this while working on a first draft and can see that it will be very useful later during editing. At only 110 pages, screenplays have to be tight. Every scene has to count, each line of dialogue must be informative, and reader suspense/curiosity should be maximized. All this is definitely applicable to producing an engaging and well-paced novel.

In explaining how these things are accomplished in
Michael Murphy
Dec 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Okay, I'm likely never going to write a screenplay, but this is a well put together book on the craft of putting one together. Many of the same techniques can also be applied to other aspects of writing, fiction and nonfiction. The first part of the book on building character empathy is exceptionally well done, since it explains all of the common techniques to connect the reader to a character in the least amount of space. A really useful list. As the book goes on, it gets less interesting, ...more
Veronica Sicoe
Oct 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Our job is to seduce the reader, keep him hanging and longing for more, and then reward him beyond expectation. Our biggest promise to him when we create a story, is that it will be an unforgettable and unmitigated experience. Only when we accomplish that, are we accomplished as writers.

"Writing For Emotional Impact" is bristling with incredibly useful and superbly explained advice, that will change the way you see the impact great fiction has on readers. It's almost as if Karl Iglesias reveals
Sep 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating book about writing. It’s not for the easily intimidated though. This book assumes a working knowledge of ARCs, Three-Act-Play, Character Development, Etc. It is written for screenwriters, although 99% of the content applies to novelists as well.

It teaches something very specific – How to connect the two primary emotional ARCs of a story. The emotions of the character on the page. The emotions of the audience beyond the page. Fascinating stuff and he teaches it in a very applicable
Richard Magahiz
Jun 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: screenwriters, novelists
The author gives numerous illustrations of each of the points he makes about writing effective scripts. The later portion of the book is primarily for those who want to learn how to polish their scripts, not so much for someone who wants to come up with ideas for a first draft (though some of the underlying concepts come in useful there too). He emphasizes that the author writing for Hollywood needs to concentrate on winning over his or her first audience - script readers who have to cull ...more
Laurel Decher
May 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing-craft
I found this book so useful, I wrote a blog post about how Nancy Cavanaugh's middle grade THIS JOURNAL BELONGS TO RATCHET reveals character using six of Karl Iglesias's techniques. There's a downloadable infographic to help you use them in your work.

Note: The examples in WRITING FOR EMOTIONAL IMPACT are drawn from many genres. Being a wimp, I skipped over the ones from SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, but there were plenty of other examples.
Rai Keyri
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Rai by: FullyBooked The Fort Bonifacio Global City
Much of the lessons are repeated to make the book pages long but when it comes to provoking emotion to your writings, this book is in par excellence in teaching you how to do it and what to write about (whether it's a novel, tv or movie script; let's face it: emotion is what makes them sell, without it, they will be utterly boring) .
Emre Poyraz
Jan 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
a must read for the aspiring screenwriter (like me). instead of talking about structure (like most other books in this subject do) this book is about where emotions in a story come from. i don't know any other book that does this. strongly recommended for writers in training.

(i took a star off because of how repetitive the book was. other than that, it's superb).
May 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
one of the best screenwriting books out there. Emotional Impact puts aside structure to focus on what most essentially make a movie great: moments that engage you on an emotionally level.

A complete must for anyone that wants to be a screenwriter or wants to write scripts. But be warned. This book doesn't hold your hand.
R Scott Steele
Aug 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Some great advice on writing, even though it is targeted toward script writers. You can still use the tips within if you are writing a novel or short story, but the craft sections won't be quite as much help.
Jillian Bullock
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
For any author who truly wants to improve their writing, this is the book to get. Karl Iglesias did a fine job of breaking down step by step what it takes to write wonderful works that will engage readers from page one to the end.
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Loved this. Although, it was written for screenplay, Iglesias really hits on all the points a novelist uses and explains it clearly. It really got me rethinking my novel in progress, as well as the series I'm getting ready for submission.
Victoria Milne
Aug 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-guides
Inspirational from start to finish.

Of all the guides I've read, this is the one from which I've experienced the most rapid and dramatic improvement in my writing.

If I could choose only one writing guide to have in my collection, this book would be it.

Julie Valerie
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I've ever read about screenwriting craft.

Will read this book over and over and over. Specific, concrete explanations and examples. Loved it. Thank you, Karl Iglesias.
Catrina Barton
Dec 05, 2012 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the breakdown of the three types of storytelling emotions, and some of the other finer points.
I would recommend this to anyone who is new to writing, and wants to learn how to convey emotions properly. But, it has little to offer advanced writers.
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“there is no such thing as a character in a script, only words on a page. An actor speaks these words of dialogue, and so the reader forms a sense of an actual person, though the character himself is an illusion.” 0 likes
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