When I was in the 3rd grade I discovered my love of reading. My teacher (Ms. Butler) had this huge green canoe in her classroom, filled to the brim with blankets and pillows, and if we finished our work early we had the distinct pleasure of being able to sit in that huge green boat and read. This particular treat (very quickly) became my favorite part of the day. I would rush through my work, grab a book, and head off to whichever land the literary gods deemed worthy that day. I read 56 books that year.
For the last 20 years I have gobbled up every book I could get my hands on; content in the escape they afforded me, but it was not until recently that I truly understood what kept me coming back to the written word. The characters.
A novel is made up of about 100 things; plot, timing, word manipulation (just to name a few) but none of these elements, (regardless of how you spin them) is going to make a damn bit of difference if you can’t feel where they are coming from.
No, I’m not a masochist and have this underlying urge to be (for example) a kidnap victim, but I DO want to feel the anxiety of the person that is being kidnapped. I want to worry about them, gasp when they get hurt, cry when they are struggling to deal with loss. I want my head to swim, my heart to beat out of my chest. I WANT that character to change my life…even if it’s only for 300 pages.
Why am I telling you all of this?
Well that’s simple. In the last 3 months I have not come across a single book that has physically effected me. Yes, I have read good books, and yes I have complimented character development in several of them, but the fact of the matter is… if you can’t make me cry when a key character in your book dies, something is seriously wrong.
No, I am not desensitized (for those of you screaming at me right now) No, I am not heartless…(I cry at ASPCA commercials for God’s sake) what I am, is a girl who is missing the one thing in her life that has always been dependable.
So I leave you with this. My final thought, and my final plea to those of you who are directly responsible for this sudden absence;
Your story IS important, but the people living your story are PARAMOUNT. Dig deep, push boundaries… cause if YOU aren’t feeling your book, how am I going to?