For the Love of Pathos…or for the Pathos of Love?

When it comes to writing, especially fictional writing, there can be many strategies and available tools to use in order to catch the attention of the intended audience. Among the various tools, a common one is the use of Pathos, that is, the appeal to the audience’s emotion. This strategy is especially popular when it comes to writing to young adults, and such was the case for the Storium projects done in this class.


In The Violin, the authors are already appealing towards the audience’s emotion from the start. The author writes:

“He was instantly mesmerized by Jink’s elegance. Arthur meticulously examined Jink’s every move with the violin. He just couldn’t stop staring at her. The passion that she expressed while playing the violin carved a certain love in his heart, and after getting to know her, her story became the very framework of his being.” (The Violin” Storium. Scene 1).

Almost everyone enjoys a good love story, especially when it involves two young teens. The way that the authors described Arthur falling in love, how he couldn’t take his eyes off of Jink, or how she “became the very framework of his being,” in a way starts to pull at the audience’s “heartstrings.” It may even cause the reader(s) to think back on a time when they found themselves feeling the same vulnerable feelings that Arthur had, towards someone else in their life. However, The Violin wasn’t just a love story. More than anything it was a murder/mystery. At first, the audience may think that the main issue of the story is finding Jink’s violin, however that all changes towards the end of the first scene. During this part of the scene, the audience is seeing everything from a third-person point of view, as it describes what is happening to Jhin at the crime scene of his father. The author describes the scene as follows:

““Holy Crap! There was so much blood!” Jhin thought to himself. Jhin had just seen the crime scene that within it contained the corpse of his father. He remembers looking down and seeing his father’s still and lifeless body drowned in a pool of blood. He remembers how blood splattered across father’s face, how it saturated every fiber of his clothing, turning his white shirt into a rich shade of red.” (The Violin” Storium. Scene 1).

Not only does this affect the emotions of the audience in the sense that there was an unexpected twist in the story, with Jink’s father turning up dead (as well as the question of who had done it), but the sheer descriptive details of the way Jink’s father was shown may not only cause the audience to cringe but may also create a sense of sympathy for Arthur, as he is staring at his father’s dead, bloodied corpse. However, such wasn’t the case, as Jhin was found to be the murderer further on in the story (spoiler alert?).


Another prime example of yet another love story would be the one titled “Unexpected Love.” This is another story involving the struggles of love between two young, high-school teenagers. However, in comparison to The Violin, the audience’s emotions are put through more of a roller coaster, at least in regards to love. As the story begins, the authors start to describe the characters of the story, ones that are typical in a high school love story: the arrogant jocks, the quiet nerdy kid (Dexter), who is usually bullied by the jocks, and the girl (Marissa). Oh, how beautiful the girl must be, as the authors describe her as a girl with brunette hair “with a golden gradient near the end, like an exquisite curtain of gold.” (“Unexpected Love” Storium. Scene 1). It was to no surprise that the authors showed that the jocks and Dexter had a crush on Marissa. At some point in life, many people have most likely seen or been that one nerdy person, always having the secret crush on the most popular girl in school, but never ended up doing anything about it. However, the authors of Unexpected Love decide to throw in a twist and have the nerd actually talk to the girl. This, in a sense, could allow for the audience to feel a sense of excitement, as the underdog might finally be getting a chance. The author describes the scene between Dexter and Marissa as such: ““I’m Dexter by the way…” His luscious, brown locks dangle down and give Dexter a kind of flattering look that works for him. His glasses add to his genuine, intellectual aesthetic that Marissa has honed in on.” (“Unexpected Love” Storium. Scene 2). Not only does Dexter get a chance to talk to Marissa, but it seems as if Marissa finds something attractive about Dexter. This allows for the audience to be in Dexter’s shoes and, in a way, picture what things would be like from his perspective.

However, just things start to get “juicy” the author decides to toy with the audience’s emotions, as Dexter, in a nervous rush tells Marissa: ““Hey Marissa! I’m so sorry, but I have an assignment to work on! I forgot all about it!… I’m so sorry for ruining everything. You wouldn’t even want to be with a nerd anyway”” (“Unexpected Love” Storium. Scene 2). By doing this, the author might cause a sense of frustration within the readers, as they know something that Dexter doesn’t.  This allows for the creation of what I like to call “back-seat writing.” This is where the audience, who is obviously separate from the fictional world that they are reading (or sometimes watching), finds themselves yelling at the book (or T.V.) trying to get the character(s) to understand a critical fact, in this case, that Marissa DOES like Dexter, even though Dexter thinks otherwise. As the story progresses, the author continues to toy with the audience’s emotions, as Dexter is later described as thinking “She must hate me now…after all, she must have felt terrible being ditched, especially by ME! The social outcast of the entire school… I looked EVERYWHERE! I ran all over the school all lunch…she’s avoiding me, NO DOUBT,” (“Unexpected Love” Storium. Scene 3). This serves as another example of “back-seat writing” due to the fact that at the same instance that Dexter is thinking these thoughts, Marissa is thinking “What have I done wrong? OH GOD, What should I do now?…Well, maybe he didn’t find me interesting or maybe I was being too assertive…just because I like him doesn’t mean he has the obligation to feel the same…” (“Unexpected Love” Storium. Scene 3). If the first instance didn’t get the young, drama craving readers to scream at Dexter and Marissa, surely this one did the trick.

The author must have some good in them, because sooner or later, Dexter and Marissa find each other, and the way it happened couldn’t be more cheesy, yet unbelievably relieving. Marissa hears a thump, realizing that it is Dexter dropping his books. It’s at this moment when things become “hot and heavy” as Dexter stand up and, after some awkward silence and apologizing, goes to say to Marissa: “Ii-i-I’ve liked you for a long time! W-will you….g-go out with m-(cough)…I-I just cannot contain myself any longer and this J-Just has to come out.” (“Unexpected Love” Storium. Scene 3). At this point, the audience may be itching to find out what Marissa says in response, which is: ““Woah! You don’t need to speak so fast! It’s not like I would run away from you…Not until I give this back to you…” She unzips her bag, and produces a small black suit jacket, the one Dexter left with her during prom.” It is after what seems like an eternity that Dexter, responds in a confused manner, saying “D-d-d-does that mean…” to which Marissa responds with ““You know…for a boy who reads all these books…you sure are a slow learner…” Marissa teases as she leans in…” (“Unexpected Love” Storium. Scene 3). At this point, the audience might find themselves throwing the book in the air as they scream “FINALLY!” as the author shows what the readers have been hoping for the entire story.


Love stories aren’t the only type of fictional writing, however, the strategies used within them are popular and are used in various stories today, and most likely in the future.