Monday, October 21, 2013

Keeping an open mind...

Gee, E.T. did it, why can't I?
One of the things I enjoy about writing and reading is the ability to suspend disbelief. If a story can do that for the reader successfully then the author has done a good job. The pictures that have been painted with their words must be vivid and "realistic." Ah, so you ask, what about fantasy or paranormal? Vampires? Werewolves? Aliens?

Good questions. Some readers don't like those genre's, but I challenge authors out there to write a really great story so that even the "non-fantasy" type reader will enjoy it. How? You build a world that seems absolutely realistic or so intriguing that the reader wants to visit it. You create characters that are 3-dimensional and interesting. You sprinkle in some tension that everyone or anyone can relate to - good vs evil; family dynamics; growing up; discovering self; survival - whatever it may be and make the reader see that even vampires want loving. Even evil characters had parents and maybe their home life was really bad, so they took the easy way to deal with life. The dark side, for those Star Wars folks out there. Doing what is right or good, isn't always the easy path, right?

I'm a very visual person with an active imagination, that's why I love stories, movies, plays - all forms of story telling. I want to "feel" what the characters feel, whether it's joy, sadness, confusion - I want to be a part of the story. That makes a good writer - as well as a good story - if the reader sees it and feels it with every page.

I read all types of genres and the ones I've truly love had the most vivid worlds and characters. Look at The Lord of the Rings. I mean, Hobbits - come on?! And Star Wars Jabba the Hut, what ugly slug is going to be head of the galactic mob? Did I love these characters that pushed the envelope of what is "real" and what is "fantasy"? Absolutely. It's what makes the stories so interesting - the melding of what is and what could be - here or in a galaxy far, far away.

Cowboys & Aliens
Have you ever read a Louis L'Amour western? Oh Man. He transports me back to the days of six guns and wild Indians. I love them. And there's always a reluctant hero, a fair damsel, and something bad that happens. Throw in some historical references and I'm hooked! Coupled with the fact that Sam Elliot and Tom Selleck will always be two of my favorite Sacketts, what's not to like?

Some of my favorite authors write about the south and make me smell Jasmine and Honeysuckle, and feel the humidity in the air. They make me want to visit Tybee or Sullivan's Island and take a tour of the low-country. Do you know who I'm talking about? Dorothea Benton Frank, C. Hope Clark, Fern Michaels, Pat Conroy - there's a bunch of them. Give them a try.

My point is that I recommend stepping out of your "comfort genre" and explore the possibilities. There are a plethora of authors out there who present their stories with flare and touch our hearts. Keep an open mind. Try new things. And if you find something you like, write a review for the next reader to find your new discovery. 

Oh, and writers - this applies to you as well. If you've always written mysteries but you have a burning desire to write a children's novel - go for it. And, enjoy the journey!


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Bonnie,

As both a reader and a writer, I like to take chances and as you suggest reach outside the comfort zone. All good writers of fiction have one thing in common--they make us believe. They do it in a variety of ways, but as you point out, vivid appeals to the our senses is a strong technique.

Irene Bennett Brown said...

Great post. As a reader and writer, my favorite 'stuff' has been all over the board but to narrow it down I've published YA novels, women's historical novels of the west, and contemporary cozy mysteries. I can agree, it's been one heck of a fun journey.

BDTharp said...

Thanks Jacqueline and Irene for the comments. Writing can be a great journey, but it's not always easy. Stones in the road.

H.B. Berlow said...

It would be like having the same sandwich for lunch EVERY SINGLE DAY. There is nothing more stultifying than reading the same genre repeatedly to the point where you're not sure what you're reading. Additionally, as a writer, you have to ask yourself "What else can I do?" Great post and valid points.

BD Tharp said...

Thanks for stopping by, H.B.