Emotion In Storytelling: Kindness and Pathos

How does a storyteller create pathos in an audience? It’s not done by making a character sad. Nor is it done by simply killing a character off. Characters extending kindness to others is a far more reliable trick.

Not all kindnesses in storytelling are the same. “Save the Cat” moments are a well-known tool among storytellers. This was Blake Snyder’s term to describe moments during character set-up when one character does something nice for another. This shows the audience the character is capable of doing good. But these save-the-cat moments of kindness are not designed to move an audience emotionally. On the contrary, the audience barely notices they’re being manipulated into liking a (sometimes very horrible) character.

So those don’t count.

If this were a movie it would be a literal save the cat moment.
If this were a movie it would be a literal save the cat moment.

But at other times when a character does something good for another and the scene becomes filled with pathos. This moment will happen much later in the story, probably after the Big Struggle (Climax) and during the Anagnorisis part of the story structure. It seems to only work near the end of a narrative.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.