Thursday, April 7, 2011
What is it about your favorite genre that draws you in, that satisfies?
If it's fantasy, is it the magic? The ability to break the rules of physics and nature, stretch the boundaries of your imagination?
If you like your books realistic, what is it that makes you keep reading? The voice of the main character? The high emotion and angst?
Sure, everyone wants to write an original story. But I'm not sure readers want stories that are too far outside the familiar tropes of their favorite genres. I mean, isn't that why we keep coming back to the same sections in the bookstore, chasing the elusive reader's high we got when we first read our favorite books?
When I think about what makes my favorite books so great, it's usually the characters that spring to mind first. Their witty repartee, or bravery in the face of almost certain doom. The emotions the author made me feel when I was in their head.
It's a pretty universal part of story-telling, that the story is seen through the eyes of someone we sympathize with. Which explains why we remember a quirk like the fact that the character always eats ketchup on their eggs, while it's more of a stretch to recall how they escaped the clutches of the evil overlord.
I'm finally starting to realize the importance of getting deep into a character's point of view. But it's not one of my strengths. Sensory descriptions seem to come easy, but the emotional/visceral ones are still a challenge for me. It always sound clichéed, or overdone, full of too many pounding hearts, clenching fists, and tight throats.
This is where it's difficult for me to be original. I can write you fantastic plots until the cows come home, and eventually get my characters out of a world of trouble, but I can't seem to write how my pov characters are reacting to this trouble without feeling like I've read those words before. Either in my own writing, or worse, someone else's.
How do you keep your writing unique? Can it be learned, or do you think that it's just another element of personal style? What part of novel writing do you feel you need to work on? I'd love to hear it!