It's Friday again! Are you all psyched? Yeah...
I am told by the CDC handouts that came home with the kids from school that what we all had was Norovirus. You know, that virus that they always freak out about when it hits a cruise ship? Except no cruise. (Bummer.) I hope none of you have had to experience it. Not pleasant.
On to more positive things.
What They Said:
If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn't matter a damn how you write. ~ Somerset Maugham
What I Heard:
Emotion is everything. ~ Mr. Maugham
I have read some truly horrible books, books that made me wonder if the publisher had an editor on staff. They were repetitive, they had plot holes the size of Brazil, each paragraph had a three cliche minimum...bad stuff. But I loved them. Some of them I love so much I reread them periodically.
Similarly, I've read impeccably crafted books -- everything exactly where it should be, the language both succinct and dynamic, the plot tighter than Steven Tyler's pants -- and I put a bookmark in them and never picked them up again. Most times, it's not even a conscious choice; I simply forget about them.
A few years ago, when I decided to become a clown in this particular rodeo and lassoed me some writing seriousity, I started to ask myself why. Why does this technically horrible book keep me up all night, unable to stop turning pages, while the editor's dream is completely forgotten before I close the book?
Because the "bad" book made me feel something: horror, pity, love, tension, warmth -- something. The "good" book left me wanting, and not in the right way. I needed a reason to care.
Look, craft is important. Tight writing, thoughtful plotting, good pacing, grammar, spelling, syntax, rhythm -- these are all essential things for any would-be career author to learn (and they can be learned). However, the ability to evoke emotion in your reader trumps everything.
Make 'em feel it. That's the ticket. (cliche!)
What makes you keep reading (or looking, this applies to visual art, too)?
P.S. You may have noticed that there's a Facebook button over there <== in the left margin. Feel free to come on over and Like me. I promise not to do a Sally Field.
ETA: I have no idea what's going on with the wonky spacing. Blogger is weird sometimes. Sorry 'bout that.