As a follow-on to this post, I set aside that book that was dragging for me and am now 320 pages into a different book that did work for me. And I realized that what this book I’m reading now had in the first chapter that the other book didn’t have was emotion. Specifically, love and concern towards the main character.
This book I’m reading now opens with two characters interacting and one, in their thoughts, is worried about the other. You also can clearly see that the character whose viewpoint it is cares deeply about this other character.
The book itself is about that other character, and we as readers are immediately told this person is someone to care about by being put in the viewpoint of someone who cares for them. Someone who sees their vulnerability and strength and loyalty. We want good things for this character as a result.
And then there’s a mystery, which is why we keep reading. (This is a fantasy novel.) There’s something this character can’t share right now. We know they’re hurting. We know this other character wants to help them. But we don’t know why they’re hurting or if they’ll find a resolution.
And that’s why we keep flipping pages. Or at least why I do.
In writing often the question is, “why should I care?”
Think of all the boring conversations you’ve ever had in your life where someone was telling you about something that mattered to them but not to you. Your reader is that person sitting at the table with you listening to you tell this story.
If there’s no emotion or adventure or mystery to draw them in…their eyes are going to slowly glaze over. It doesn’t matter how passionate you are about the subject, what matters is if you can find a way to draw your audience in, too.
Anyway. I am now a day late in getting my next audio release finalized as a result of this book, but I don’t regret a thing.
(And this is yet another reminder that the really good authors are not at all interchangeable. There may be millions of books published each year, but the number that are operating at that top level of story telling are few and far between.)