Thursday, March 31, 2011
Different strokes for different folks
As a writer, understanding what your readers seek is somewhat harder. A 'readership' is made up of a number of different personalities, so how is a writer to know who likes what, and in which combination? If you write within a particular genre, you might have a pretty good handle on the type of aspects readers expect to find. So it is useful to have a mental - or sticky-noted - list of aspects to tick off as you go.
One side of the list should enumerate tangible, physical, and active notions. These could be a sport, a hobby or interest such as collecting jewellery, an extraordinary ability or disability such as dyslexia, a chase, a booby-trap, a kidnapping, and so forth.
The other side should dwell on the abstract notions. Love, of course, disgust, hatred, envy, compatibility, shyness, ignorance, jealousy, laziness, joy ... the list is inexhaustible.
The fun is linking them up, having a very physical chase through a forest, for example, coupled with the discovery of jealousy. Or the ploughing of a field coupled with thoughts of hatred and repulsion. Or the feeling of exhilaration and bliss when washing dishes in a newly-opened restaurant.
Putting together physical and abstract notions will place the reader in an observer's position, but able to relate to the picture you create, because that, after all, is how life seems to us. A task is generally accompanied by a sentiment, especially if it is a boring one, or a moving one, or one that angers us to tears of frustration.
How do you like your mixes of feelings and action in fiction? If you are an observant reader, you will be able to recount the last one that made you sit up and take notice. If you are a writer, what unusual combination of active and mental notions have you come up with lately?