Thursday, July 28, 2016

What Makes a Novel Memorable?

What makes a novel memorable?
The best stories connect with readers on a visceral level. They transport us to another time and place and put us in a different “skin,” where we face challenges we may never know in life. And yet, the commonality of the story problem draws us onward and, in solving it vicariously through the protagonist, changes us.
Another feature of a memorable story is characters that live off the page. One of the highest compliments I’ve never received for my novel “Lynx”, Rodeo Romance came when one reader told me she thought about my story constantly. She said that Lynx and Rachel’s story seemed so real, so heart wrenching, and their love so very enduring.  She said that she was going through a difficult time in her life and my story gave her hope.  Hope.  Hope for someone during a desperate time—I felt blessed that she shared her story.  I was also humbled.  It is moment such as this that I know just how powerful worlds and stories are to our readers.

While I never sit down at the keyboard and say, “I think I will write a powerful, life-changing story today.”  What I do, by nature, is select a social issue for the core of my stories.  Since my stories are character driven and often told in the first person, the emotion has a natural flow.
How do you create this type of engagement with your story?
Go beyond the five senses.  Your reader must feel your character’s emotions.  Your reader must forget there is a world outside of your story.

Embrace idiosyncrasies.  As teenagers everyone wanted to fit in, be one of the crowd.  Your character isn’t like anyone else.  Give him an unexpected, but believable trait.  In “Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow”, 99-cents for the next two weeks on Amazon.com, my heroine, a Zombie has a pet. Not a zombie pet. Not a dog, or a cat.  She has a teddy bear hamster named Gertie.



Make them laugh. It doesn’t need to be slap-stick.  Just a little comic relief when the reader least expects it to happen.  In "Brede" Rodeo Romance, Book 2.  The ranch hands, especially orney old Caldwell, have resulted in many a fan letter/email to me!  

Make them cry.  Remember the scene in the movie classic, Romancing the Stone, where Joan Wilder is crying when she writes the final scene in her novel?  I find this is the key.  If you are crying, your reader will be crying too.
If you are writing a romance, make them fall in love.  Make the magic last.  The first meeting, first kiss, the moment of falling in love.  These are the memories our readers savor, wait for in our stories.  Don’t disappoint them.




As Emily Dickinson, said so well: 
There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!
Happy Reading!
Connie Vines


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