Friday, September 16, 2011

I Second That Emotion

I came across an interview in Writer's Digest with Donald Maass, James Scott Bell and Christopher Vogler that I wanted to share.  They discuss story structure, plot, and character arcs.  Very informative.  I particularly liked what Vogler had to say about connecting with the emotions of your audience.  It made me think about the book that I was currently reading.

That book, which will remain nameless, is a bestseller.  It's considered literary fiction.  I'm 50 pages into it and I could care less about the main characters.  I neither like or dislike the characters or their story.  I feel nothing for them, in fact.  It's like eating ice-cream that has no taste.  I will most likely return this book to my e-library and perhaps try to re-read it at a later date. 

I think I've said this before but I'm most engaged with stories that make me feel something emotionally.  That's why Vogler's point in this Writer's Digest article rings particularly true for me--not only in what I like to read but what I like to write.  Make me laugh and cry; make me upset.  Make me sad.  Just make me feel something in my heart and in my gut and I'm yours.

To read the complete Writer's Digest article, click here.

18 comments:

DEZMOND said...

I've recently come to a conclusion that 90% of the books I've read do not have appealing characters :( That especially goes for all the bestsellers I've read and translated :( I think that most readers actually prefer reading crap to quality :)

Joanne said...

That's what we seek as readers, that connection. We want to be moved, to feel the story in our hearts.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

If I don't connect with the characters, I stop reading.

raelynbarclay said...

That's an excellent article.

I'm with you 100% Liz. I want to laugh and cry, love and rage, live and die with the characters.

I'm a character driven reader and I try to be a character driven writer :)

cherie said...

I know what you mean. That connection has to exist so the reader would be willing to invest their time and money on a book.

Great article, too! Thanks for sharing! :)

Crystal Cheverie said...

Hear, hear!! I've read books where I don't care about the characters, and I have returned or given away each one of them. It's like you said: Make me feel SOMETHING!

Eleri Stone said...

Thanks for the article link. Would love to be able to attend that workshop.

Carol Riggs said...

VERY interesting! (And now I'm insanely curious as to which book you're referring.) I think that was the trouble with the first episode of the movie Star Wars, too--all action and special effects, but no character to identify with. Whereas the first trio of movies the main characters were strong: Luke, Leia, Han, Darth. I think with books, a lot of high-concept and "thriller" types often sacrifice a cool premise or breathtaking action scenes at the expense of a connection with the reader.

Kathleen said...

That is a great article! I don't know how many books I've put down just because the emotion wasn't there! I don't want to read books when I can't feel what the characters are feeling!

LD Masterson said...

I read that article and agree - if I don't care about the characters, what's the point?

Marsha said...

I'm with you - I want to feel something when I'm reading. If I don't, well... I just get bored.

Marsha said...

Oops - that's actually Talli. I can't keep my identities straight! :)

Pk Hrezo said...

It's funny because a couple of girls in my book club don't like when characters give them a negative feeling or make them mad. I have to laugh at this.... I insist that if an author can get a rise like that out of them, the author has done his or her job. Characters make the story.

Sarah Pearson said...

I agree with this. Make me feel something - anything - to keep me reading.

Deniz Bevan said...

This sometimes happens to me if I read a book that's so busy piling on the sad/angry/gut wrenching events that I've got no time to connect to the characters, so I end up not caring about the events at all.

Shirley Wells said...

I couldn't agree more. If I don't feel something - anything - I give up on the book and pick up another. Life's too short to spend time reading anything that doesn't engage me.

Interesting article!

Nas Dean said...

If I cry and laugh out loud in a book I'm reading, to me that's a sign it's a five star worthy!

Lynda R Young said...

Yeah, I don't read a lot of literary fiction for that reason ;)