Evoking emotion in the audience

Keep in mind that books use ideas to get to emotion, wherease movies use emotions to get to ideas. The power of cinema — a visceral art form that communicates its message through images, language, music, psychology, and technology — bears witness to this. Emotion is particularly important because of the medium’s immediacy. A great writer considers not just what the character would do and feel as he plots out his story, but also what he wants the audience to feel.

Every effective film, short or long, provides an emotional experience for the audience. We either laugh or cry when we see it (in great films we do both, and a lot more).
Laughter is a beautiful sensation that brings joy to our lives (and causes the brain to release those amazing endorphins). Surprise and suspense are techniques for creating tension and keeping us guessing about what will happen next in the story.

You must realize that your audience yearns for this type of emotional encounter. Emotion pulls us deeper into ourselves by taking us out of ourselves and connecting us with others. It’s a paradox.

Emotion, moreover, makes us feel alive, and when a film provides us with this feeling, it has us. We have a connection with it.


Characters with recognizable emotional reactions are easier to comprehend or empathize with. The quickest approach to introduce a character to the audience is through emotion.

How do you elicit an emotional response from the audience?

The director and actors must first determine what each actor wants (in the scene and generally) and the source of tension in the material. It gets more engaging once the scene has been given a purpose and a conflict. Characters tell us what’s on their minds and in their hearts, filling in all the vital details and leaving nothing to the imagination.

You may go this a step further by delving into the scene’s emotional subtext and assigning specific actions and emotions to each actor for each sentence, which forces the other actor to react emotionally.

You can use your characters’ emotional responses to provide an emotional experience for the audience.


Humor is another useful tool. The objective is to elicit a response from them. The worst feeling is when you see a movie and don’t get anything out of it.

Emotions from action vs. from dialogue

These authors understand that the audience enjoys a little mystery and the opportunity to figure things out along the way. Your audience already has a passive connection with the work, so telling them everything will leave them with very little to do.

By giving the viewer just enough information to grasp what’s going on and then allowing the characters’ actions and reactions to reveal themselves, the audience follows along, piecing the information together and making sense of it. You want to demonstrate, not tell, your narrative.

The best screenwriters understand that telling the audience everything in words decreases the impact of a story, reduces the tension, and eventually results in a boring plot.

The best authors structure their stories such that the actions of the characters are at the center. Dialogue complements rather than replaces plot development. When we overdo dialogue, it tends to feel forced once it enters the mouths of actors. We don’t need a lot of explanation from good actors to figure out what’s going on in their heads.


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Reference Sources:

  1. Animation World Network: https://www.awn.com/
  2. Cartoon Brew – Technology: https://www.cartoonbrew.com/tech
  3. Befores & Afters – Visual effects and animation journalist: https://beforesandafters.com/
  4. Bloomberg News: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/
  5. Insider: https://www.insider.com/