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Serenity

It's raining yet again. I'm glad though. I have my window open, and am totally enjoying the sound of the falling rain. :) I love the sound of water. I need a stream with a waterfall outside my window. I'd love to install a waterfall on my pool! Then I could definitely hear the water. Unfortunately something like that is so not in my budget. :/


I've read a few books that seemed to have all the ingredients necessary for a good novel. The plot was good/interesting, characters seemed emotional and complicated, but for some reason I just couldn't identify with the main, or any, character. I was apathetic to their situations. I've never understood why until now.

I think this may explain a few things:

According to an article in The Writer's Guide to Fiction it is the dynamics of desire that is at the heart of narrative and plot. Basically, the main character should have yearning.

The author of this article, Robert Olen Butler, writes, "Many failed manuscripts of students and aspiring authors show a lot of talent -- contained characters with problems, attitudes, opinions, sensibility, voice, personality, all of those things, and often a wonderful milieu to boot. But none of those automatically carries with it yearning."

Butler suggests there should be two shining moments in a good work of fiction. Naturally one is the climax of the story, but the other is near the beginning "where the sensual details accumulate around a moment in which the deepest yearning of the main character shines forth".

A character’s yearning must be manifest. Without that, a seemingly great story can fall flat with readers. Not necessarily that the reader will dislike the story, but it won't resonate deeply with them. They’ll feel distanced.

Is this truly the explanation to why a good book leaves me distanced? It certainly sounds plausible.

Comments

"I love the sound of water."

Me too. :)

That whole yearning thing... it DOES sound plausible. A seemingly unreachable something that a character wants but isn't sure how to get because he or she doesn't know what it is yet. Because it's not known to either you or the character(s) you become involved, hoping along with the character(s) to discover what it is along the way. Most of the time, it's not found until the very last paragraph, when all of the pieces fall into place, where everything the character(s) and you have gone through comes to its conclusion. When that occurs, you feel the same satisfaction of having arrived there along with the character. You feel the same sense of completion. A story should always come full circle... go back to the first moment you met them while at the same time, looking ahead into the unknown future. :)
I wish I could remember the books I read that I felt apathetic about, but I can't.

I always wondered what it was that left me cold. Have you ever read a book like that? You don't like it. You don't hate it. There's just something there that didn't quite wrap you up?