THE BLOG
06/12/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Emotional Depth

When we watch and experience a story, we emotionally respond to truly knowing and understanding the characters in the story. A strong story that is well told affirms our life experience. If the storyteller has the gift of shining light on why we should care about who we are watching, the overall experience has more value. I like to push writers to strive for this emotional depth in the stories they tell.

Mythology adds tremendous depth to writing. Understanding myth is an ongoing journey. In Pathways To Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation, Joseph Campbell writes:

That's the first function of mythology: not merely a reconciliation of consciousness to the preconditions of its own existence, but reconciliation with gratitude, with love, with recognition of the sweetness. Through the bitterness of pain, the primary experience at the core of life is a sweet, wonderful thing. This affirmative view comes pouring in on one through these terrific rites and myths.

In The Virgin's Promise, Kim Hudson explores the emotional depth in the commonly used mythical archetypes of the Virgin and the Hero. In the Intro, Chris Vogler writes, "The Virgin's Promiseprovides a pathway into the feminine archetypal journey lying dormant in our collective unconscious. The quest to become true to yourself..." These words hit me. Kim Hudson takes the reader on a journey into truly understanding the feminine archetypal magic in writing. Kim writes,

The tensions are also different in the Virgin and Hero stories. The cost of the Virgin going on her pathway is the potential loss of love, joy and passion. Without these things that accompany the fulfillment of her dream, the Virgin suffers loss of self, which manifests as depression, insanity and suicide. The cost to the Hero of going on his journey is potentially death. The loss of life at the hands of others will involve physical pain and leave his village vulnerable to evil.

Kim takes us into the power of the feminine journey and on an internal journey as a way of discovering our truth and the meaning of our obstacles. This affects both our writing and our own spiritually. It is all intertwined.

Both authors really explore how to add depth to the human experience. With story, we want to be transformed. We want to connect and understand the power of life experience. By shining a light on the internal goal of your characters, you add an emotional depth that fulfills your audience. You do this by digging into your own emotional depth. Be willing to go inside and your audience will feel the reward.