Friday, July 9, 2010

Refining My R.E.A.R.

No, I'm not detailing my gym workouts. Okay, so I made the funky acronym on purpose. The premise is valid, however. Real Emotion And Response from your reader is the key to keeping your book in their hands.  I hate it when I read a book and realize that I don't really care what happens to the characters; that their experience and responses are too out of my personal understanding to relate.  This is a very bad thing...especially for romance writers.

There are a lot of things that go into a novel. Core elements like plot, pacing, tension, name it. You're building a world for your reader, it takes sweat and planning.  We all strive to do our best and hone our craft. We all agonize over that adverb, or that sub-plot, or word count.  You know what? Its all for nothing if the emotion doesn't ring true and the reader can't relate.

Take a certain paranormal romance series for example. The plot isn't that original. The characters could use some layering. The setting is dreary and not really described much. But the angst...whew!  Talk about resonating with your demographic.

The idea that the most desirable, most dangerous of the characters would move mountains to be with you is alluring. Who wouldn't want to be so enchanting that an Adonis-like creature would defy the rules of his universe, his family, even his personal beliefs to have you?  Is it any wonder that the series broke past the target audience to their mothers? Being desired, above everyone else, is universal. Whether its for your beauty, strength, wit, or writing ability...we want to be wanted. It's a basic human need.
But something real lies underneath the twinkling glitter of the story dream. Something that pulls at your reader's core. Real emotion - longing, insecurity, desire for something you know is more than you deserve. Through the fog of the improbable, you reach out to that part of your reader that still smarts from that rejection or unrequited love, or lost spark -- and you elicit a response that transcends plot details and adverb over-usage.

Mechanics can be fixed and fine tuned. Word counts can be bent and plot can be tightened. That's what revisions are for, right? But that real emotion...that visceral connection with the character is powerful. Don't forget, in your quest to shine and polish your "work",  that it is a work of "art" to begin with.

So work on refining your 'rears' my friends. Until next time...Go write.

Photograph by DerrickT.   Photograph by Victor Bezrukov.  Photograph by pedrosimoes7.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Excellent post, Raquel. If I don't care about the characters, it won't matter how great the story.

Jill Kemerer said...

Yes! So many faults in a book can be forgiven if the author makes us care. Nice!

Hart Johnson said...

*snort* Talk about an acronym I can get behind!!! Fabulous blog, Raquel! And so true--I just finished one with... by all accounts, a great plot, but the detached MC kept me too far at arms length...

Olivia J. Herrell said...

Very juicy post, thank you! And, yes, I admit it. Your title caught me.

~That Rebel, Olivia