F is for Feel
There are many things I look for in a good book. A few are -- engaging characters, quick pace, the presence of wit and intelligence without flaunting, and most importantly a sense of mystery about where the story is leading me. I left one quality out…one that if it’s present can transform a book from good to great. It can make me feel.
Now, for me, this is harder than it sounds – but not impossible. Yes, some feelings are easier to solicit than others – anger and irritation for example. And I’m not talking about getting peeved at the author because they’re blatantly switching POV in a scene when they’re supposed to be using 3rd person limited. What I’m describing is heat on the back of my neck and ears turning red when a character does something in the narrative that makes my blood boil. That’s relatively easy to pull off. But when it comes to my deeper emotions, the ones buried beneath layers of thickened testosterone and weathered psychological preparation, that’s not so easy.
Do you know the books I’m talking about…the ones that after you finish reading you hug to your chest – you feel so strongly about it? I can probably count on my fingers (and maybe a toe or two) the number of books that have touched my core feelings that way. That’s because I don’t seek out books to do that. I’m not a romance reader, or any other genre where “touchy-feely” is a dominant theme. I primarily read (and write) mystery – suspense – thriller – horror – and some sci-fi, both in adult and YA. I’m not saying that books in those genre’s don’t make readers feel something…because they do…but what I’m talking about is reading a scene/passage that literally takes my breath away. That’s rare…for me…in these genres.
So naturally…being a writer in these genres…one of my goals is to do the same in others. Write a scene that makes the reader feel, at more than just a cursory level. Only time will tell if I’ve been successful…but shouldn’t it be an objective of every writer?