Light ‘Em Up! Igniting Readers with FIRE

Readers should burn for the characters in your book.

So light ’em up, up, up
Light ’em up, up, up
Light ’em up, up, up
They’re on fire!

No, not literally. Put the match away, silly. I’m talking about an inner fire, a burning desire to read what comes next. To create an emotional connection with the reader, a writer should strive to write a story that causes the reader to:

• Fear for the characters
• Identify with the characters
• Root for the characters
• Empathize with the characters

 FF is for FIRE

Rachel Ballon discusses the acronym she created in her book, Breathing Life Into Your Characters. According to Ballon, “F.I.R.E. is what you want your audience to feel every time you put I.C.E into your characters.” Don’t worry. If you don’t know what I.C.E. stands for I’ll cover it in the A to Z post for “I.”

Fire, one of the three essential elements of nature, is also an essential element of a good story. If you can create F.I.R.E in the reader then you’ve provided the emotional depth to cause the reader to become involved in the characters, to care what happens next, and to keep reading.

Here’s a poem I wrote about the topic. As my daughter would say, “Don’t be judge-y.” I’m obviously not trying to win any awards.

What does a first-rate tale require?
To turn that reader into a buyer,
You must create one readers desire,
And sing its praises like a choir.

But how do you do this, you inquire?
To be an author, I so aspire.
Will a romance, sci-fi or satire
Become the story that will inspire?

To make the reader tension higher,
To cause him to worry and perspire,
And turn him into a bubbling crier,
Just add more fuel to the reader’s FIRE.

Make the villain a thief or liar,
Or a hit man out for hire,
Or a parolee with a prior,
Who will plot, scheme and conspire.

Make the hero one we admire,
Have him walk on a high wire,
Or traipse through the muck and mire,
For the treasure to acquire.

To reach a peak that can’t be higher,
Put the hero in the line of fire,
Or have him fall into a quagmire
Or simply hunted by a vampire.

Too many irons in the fire?
Skimp on it, if you so desire,
Then prepare the funeral pyre,
And get ready to retire.

To make the reader tension higher,
To cause him to worry and perspire,
And turn him into a bubbling crier,
Just add more fuel to the reader’s FIRE.

photo credit:


14 thoughts on “Light ‘Em Up! Igniting Readers with FIRE”

    1. Really? I almost removed it because I thought it was so poorly constructed. I didn’t want to embarrass myself. But then I thought, WTH, all my A2Z posts on what I’ve learned about writing have been embarrassing. What’s one more?

      That would be FORCED retirement for those who don’t have the discipline to learn the craft. You, my friend, are not in that category. Plus, I don’t think all the characters in your head would let your retire. You’ll be writing until you’re 100, at least.

      1. I can’t stop until the last adventure. Though I already know what the last book will be about.

        As for the poem, I was really impressed with the rhyme scheme. I always have trouble making rhyming poems that are coherent.

  1. Awesome poem 🙂 And I gift you one thousand internet points for your inclusion of Fallout Boy’s Light ‘Em Up. Love this song!!! Oh, and re-blogging this because I legit adore your poem!

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