Creating the Feels

I love reading books that leave you with that “feeling all the feels”. Recently, I finished Me Before You by Jojo Meyes, and I have to admit — wow. All. The. Feels!

I was trying to work out what draws such an emotional response from me when it comes to books. After all, if I have a list, it means I could maybe try do it myself one day . . . right?! So here are some of my thoughts on what makes a Feels book:

  • A flawed protagonist. In every book I’ve read that has drawn an intense emotional response from me, the protagonist has been flawed. They’ve not been the perfect babe who gets all the guys. They’ve been raw and very real, with clear issues that have helped define their life, and not always in a good way. Whether you’re looking at Lake in Colleen Hoover’s Slammed, or Fern in Kristin Maddock’s The Enchanted Orchards, they’re people who have had a serious event in their past that they’re trying to overcome; not always with success.
  • Well crafted story structure. For me, the novels that give me the feels build, and build, then, wham! You reach a climx point that absolutely changes the direction of the novel, leaving you feeling betrayed, a little like everything you thought you knew about a character was wrong/is different/has been taken from you. You see a different side, and realise the motivations for their actions is completely different to what you thought it was.

    Sometimes, I'm a sucker for a little bit of heartache  Photo: Big Stock Photo

    Sometimes, I’m a sucker for a little bit of heartache
    Photo: Big Stock Photo

  • Heartbreak. I know you can get the feels from happy books, or thriller books, or, erm, erotica books. HOWEVER the books that really stick with me the most are the ones that break my heart. I don’t know why; it makes no sense. Why do I want to read about other people’s sadness? Is it so I can cheat, have an excuse to cry on someone else’s behalf? Is it because really, I’m not over some of the sadness I’ve experienced in my life, and some books tap in and trigger the heartbreak button for me? I’m not sure. But I do know that heartbreak gives me the feels. Provided that…
  • The protagonist is likeable. I need to be deeply invested, to care about them and their journey. I need to feel like we could be friends in real life. And, for me, this often means they need to have a similar moral grounding to what I have — pretty centre field, no major indisgressions, no propensity for cheating on the quarterback with his best friend, or bitching about friends behind their backs. Hey, I like reading those stories too — sometimes, I LOVE reading those stories — but they’re not usually the ones that leave me with the feels.

There are a whole heap of other qualities that make up books that give me the feels; these are just a few I’ve thought of now. So what about you? What gives you the feels when you’re reading a book?


Lauren (3)Lauren K. McKellar is an editor of fact and fiction. She has worked in publishing for more than eight years, and was recently Runner Up Editor of the Year in the 2013 Publishers Australia Excellence Awards for her magazine work.
Lauren is also an author and her debut novel, Finding Home, was released in October this year through Escape Publishing, and her second novel, The Problem With Crazy, is coming out March, 2014.


One Comment

  1. I get feels from characters who care about other characters. Throw in a little brother/sister for the MC, and I’m putty. I LOVE it when characters are 3D. They feel, I feel. 😉



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