Monday, February 28, 2011

Reach Out and Touch Somebody . . . With Your Writing

There are some stories that just grab us. Sometimes by the throat, sometimes by the heart, but always with a lingering touch that can last for days.

I have many goals as a writer, and there are many reasons why I write. But the one that I hope to accomplish every time I set out to write down a new story is writing one that touches people, one that stays with someone for days.

The thing is, I don't know if those stories that specifically bring out the lasting effects in us can be broken down and quantified into their parts. I mean, what exactly constitutes a story that we can't forget? Love? Romance? Tragedy? Happy endings? I think it's different for most people, and very rarely, there are those stories that universally appeal to people-- HARRY POTTER, and TWILIGHT come to mind.

I'm curious to hear your opinions on this. What, to you, are the elements of the stories that you can't forget? I'm having a hard time quantifying this for myself. I'd also love to hear what stories have touched you deeply!

I'm not ashamed to admit that TITANIC is a big one for me-- no matter how many times I see that movie, I will still cry toward the end.

For a much shorter example, see this video for "Chasing Pavements" by Adele-- not only is it visually stunning, it has a powerful, lasting touch on the viewer.


Davin Malasarn said...

I think this is such a hard question to answer, and I think different stories can touch us for different reasons, so what I say here doesn't apply to everything. But, I think what I engage with the most is when I feel like a writer is opening up to me and revealing something about them that is difficult to reveal. I feel like a writer is confiding in me. This can happen through other characters because every thought a character has went through the writer first. It creates a level of trust that means a lot to me.

Keriann Greaney Martin said...

Great post! To be honest, your latest completed manuscript I had the extreme pleasure of reading stuck with me for days :). I found myself remembering certain lines and then realized it was from your book, LOL.

I think a story that grabs you is one that has the ability to evoke emotion in the reader, to connect with him/her on a personal level. One that makes you think about your own life. This doesn't have to be a sad story by any means, just one that makes a connection. That's why we love characters we can relate to, ones in whom we see a little piece of ourselves. Of course, that's difficult to do because everyone is so different! I guess it just takes knowing who you want your audience to be and finding a way for your characters to connect with them.

C. N. Nevets said...

This is a weird one for me to answer, so I'll answer twice.

1) As a reader, what makes a story most memorable is something in it that resonates with where I am in life right then at the time. It's very PoMo, but it's always the case. (Which is very un-PoMo. But I digress.) Sometimes it will be a character experience, sometimes it will be a snippet of prose, sometimes even a description. But there will be some encounter that clicks with me in a deep way -- probably deeper than the author intended. That's when I remember the book.

The trouble is, an author can never predict that, which is why...

2) As a writer, I've found that all I can do, besides write well and evocatively, is to be open and honest enough in my writing that something in there resonates with where I am and strikes that emotional, spiritual, psychological note with me. If it does, then it's my hope that at least one other reader will have a similar experience and will remember my story.

That's the perfect thing.

dolorah said...

Hmm, a good question. I guess it depends on the story; but characters are almost always what makes a story memorable for me. Or a philosophy. I read a lot of fantasy and thriller, and I think its because both have you thinking outside the normal rules of right or wrong, or what makes a character worthy or not.

Each story brings me to a different place, so it can't be pinned down to one thing. That is what I hope in my novels; for someone to say this or that moved them, and it be the one thought or emotion I wanted to leave them with. Now that is successful writing, in my book.


K. Marie Criddle said...

Pardon the late comment here, but I just finished WINTER'S BONE (the book, not the movie) and the rich rich rich setting really spoke to me. The Ozarks are as foreign to me as Mars, so to be so wholly entrenched in the world and believe every drop of it...oh man, that gets me. I love settings that are rendered so completely that I can live in (whether I like it or not. Spoiler: WINTER'S BONE is incredibly depressing) them long after I finish reading.

Great's so interesting to see what speaks to different readers!