Writing That Makes People Happy
Written By: Timothy Fish Published: 12/17/2007
When we talk about joy and happiness there is a possibility for confusion. Many people fail to see much difference between joy and happiness, but it is quite possible to experience joy and yet be unhappy. Joy comes from God while happiness is an emotion that we may feel while experiencing joy from God. For our purposes here, we can ignore joy and focus instead on the emotion of happiness. Our writing cannot bring true joy, but it can cause the reader to be happy.
Writing that makes a reader happy is writing that gets the reader what the reader is hoping for. It sounds simple enough. Focus on happy things and the reader will be happy. It doesn’t quite work that way. Consider the three sentence story, “The girl meets the guy. They fall in love. They live happily every after.” Every sentence is upbeat and happy, so the reader should be happy and maybe she is, but no one is jumping up and down for joy. Something is clearly missing.
A reader is not made happy by watching happy characters living out their happy little lives. For a reader to be happy about a character’s success, the reader must have enough time to develop an affinity for the character. The reader must reach a point were he realizes that the character may fail to accomplish his goals. When character finally reaches the goal, the reader feels happiness because something good has happened.
It may be possible to write in such a way that the character begins at some level of success and through continuously improving his success the write will make the reader happy, but it is doubtful that there is a situation where this will work well. All stories need the continuous interaction between success and failure. This reminds that reader of the reasons he has to be happy for the character when the character succeeds.
Humor can sometimes be used to make readers happy. Humor is often quite tragic for fictional characters, but it makes the readers happy. Humor can be one of the hardest things to master, but it covers a multitude of sins. If you can get people to laugh with you then they are less likely to take issue with mistakes and other problems. They will even ignore a few offensive comments.