Writers On Writing / Empathy and resonance with Kate Cuthbert


We caught up with award-winning book reviewer, editor and critic Kate Cuthbert ahead of her course at Writing NSW on Saturday 23 March, Building Emotional Resonance.


Kate Cuthbert emotional resonance

What do you mean by the phrase ‘emotional resonance’?

Emotional resonance is that level of engagement where your readers feel your story along with the characters, where their emotions get involved, where they become as personally invested in the narrative as the characters themselves. 

What are some of the most common ‘no-nos’ when it comes to building emotion into a story?

Relying on cliché or assumptions. One of the things we are going to talk about is developing strong characters, so that when you build emotion into your story, you’re tying it to how that character feels, and how that character will react. Emotional resonance is tied very strongly to empathy, so you want your characters to feel as real as possible—and that includes managing their emotions.

Which are some authors or books that have recently resonated strongly with you?

I was blown away by Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe and Krissy Kneen’s An Uncertain Grace, and no one can write heartbreak quite like Sally Thorne.

Kate Cuthbert is managing editor of Escape Publishing, Harlequin Australia’s digital-first imprint. She is also an award-winning book reviewer and critic, a genre fiction advocate, and an in-demand moderator, presenter, and teacher. She is currently pursuing a PhD examining rural settings in Australian popular fiction.

Building Emotional Resonance will take place at Writing NSW on Saturday 23 March, 10am-4pm. Book your spot here >

Building Emotional Resonance with Kate Cuthbert


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