I believe that a story should reach readers on an emotional level. Otherwise, what’s the point in reading a story, even a good story, if the reader feels nothing. Those are the books you skim read or give up on after a few chapters.
Don’t get me wrong; the story is the most important thing. As a writer I’m not interested in wrenching a superficial emotional response from the reader. I could do that by writing gratuitous, shocking, and outrageous scenes that do little to develop the character or the story. I’m more interested in honest emotions, the kind that will stay with the reader after they have finished the book.
How do I know if I’ve succeeded in writing that kind of story? There’s no way to know for sure, but I’ve found that my own emotional response while I’m writing is a pretty good gauge. I will sometimes write scenes that will make me cry while I’m typing. There are other scenes that make me angry, excited, nervous, joyful, and depressed. If I’m feeling nothing then, chances are, the reader will feel nothing except, possibly, disappointment.
Don’t worry; I won’t let you down.