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?

9 comments

  1. I think that's true, not many books make us 'feel'.

    #AtoZChallenge

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  2. When I pick up something, I want to feel. For me to do so, I must be truly invested in the characters and so plot-driven books leave me wanting something more. I always want to be right in the thick of things with my MC.

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  3. I don't feel it a lot either, but when I do, I know that book is special!

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  4. Those are all the same things that I look for while reading a book. :) When a writer can accomplish that, they created something great. I try my best to accomplish it.

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  5. Amen to this Engaging your readers feelings is hook that won'tet go.

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  6. That is rare in those genres. I have read a couple that were powerful in their captivation though.

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  7. I just experienced this yesterday when I finished a book. I'm still thinking about it today! The sign of a great story!

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  8. I've read books where I've realised I'm holding my breath. And once, I closed the book and hugged it - it was such a bizarre thing to do, but kind of felt right. I hope that doesn't sound too weird!

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  9. Hi DL - I have a few books that touched me .. made me sit up and think ... and you're right the ones we remember and are pleased to have read do feed us emotionally ...

    Cheers Hilary

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