The stories we love best, the ones that stay with us, evoke emotion. Yet so often as writers we can lose sight of that as we wrestle with so many aspects of the story and the craft. So – the challenge is to write a story that evokes in the reader either a sense of sadness, or – more difficult – a sense of joy.

Think about the tone and the atmosphere of the story, rather than relying on the ‘events’ – if a character dies, for instance, the reader doesn’t automatically feel sad, unless you first make them care about the character. Evoking joy in the reader doesn’t necessarily mean writing a ‘happy’ story. The characters might face difficulties but the way in which they deal with those difficulties might just elicit a joyous sense of life!

More about Monica Ali

Monica Ali is an award-winning, bestselling writer whose work has been translated into 26 languages. Her debut novel, Brick Lane, was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize and described by James Wood as ‘a great achievement of the subtlest storytelling’. She was a Bridport Prize judge in 2018.

Line Break