I want to cry…

My ultimate judge of a book is whether or not it made me cry.  If it didn’t, I’ll remember the book as just being a lackluster shadow of what it COULD have been.

Sitting unopened on my shelf, a book has all the potential in the world.  It can make me laugh out loud, cry so hard I can’t read, and squirm in fear for the characters on the page.  I want to connect to the characters, to care about what they care about.

Books that I connect to on an emotional level are the ones I will read over and over again.  They’re the ones that have stayed on my bookshelf even after I put 9 boxes of books into storage, and have left countless more at my parent’s house.

All the books and series’ I love (J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, Christopher Paolini’s Eragon, Kristin Britain’s Green Rider and more) I read over and over again because no matter how many times I read them, I feel the delight and the fear and the conviction and the struggle and the sadness of the characters.

As a writer my goal is to create one of these stories: the sort that will make my reader laugh, and squirm, and cry.

I’m currently reading a series of books that are OK, but for me they fall emotionally flat.  After a book and a half, I don’t believe the emotional connection between the characters, and I don’t feel one myself.  When one of the main characters died, I didn’t even sniffle, let alone bawl like I do in Harry Potter.  (I’m also not convinced he’s really dead… but even if he is, I’m not upset about it.)

They’re fine books, but I feel like I am being told a story rather than living it. For the first time in my life it occurs to me that there are probably more stories like this than the sort I hope to write.

That terrifies me!  The thought of writing a lackluster, disconnected novel is worse than writing no novel at all.  When I hurt my characters, be it physically, emotionally, or mentally, I want my readers to care!  I want them to feel the hurt, and the pain, and the struggle, and I want my readers to be rooting for my characters to succeed!

It’s not enough for me to cry when I write scenes I hope will move people – I can see the whole world in my head like a movie.  I need to convey the appropriate thoughts and feelings so my reader can see what I do, and feel what I do.

Reading these books is perhaps the best thing I could have done while writing.  They showcase for me exactly how a book can be sooooo good, yet miss the mark completely.  From them I will take this valuable lesson I doubt I would have learned elsewhere, and use it as best I can.

Wish me luck, I have a difficult road ahead of me.

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One Response to I want to cry…

  1. That’s wonderful advice to give to writers and a wonderful learning experience for you. I would wish you luck in writing your novel and in making the reader care about your characters–but I know that you don’t need any luck. You already have everything that you need to succeed!

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