A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul.
– Franz Kafka
We all know that a story in which nothing bad happens to the character isn’t much of a story. The character needs something to fight against, so the reader has a reason to root for the character. This can be for heroes and villains, believe it or not.
That being said, when you write, who do you keep in mind as you write? The characters? Your overarching plot? Your theme? Your reader? Or all of the above?
When I began Trentwood’s Orphan, I had no idea who or what I was writing for. I simply had a character (Mary Winslow) who, like many of you mentioned in the comments two weeks ago, wouldn’t leave me alone. And that was good enough for me, then.
Now, I find that I’m writing not only to learn more about Mary, but also about how the world affects her and how she affects the world…that world including the reader. Can I make my reader cry? Can I make them frustrated? Will they be drawn into the story and wonder how Mary will get past her grief? Will they be desperate to know whether she will allow love, in any form, to break the seas frozen in her soul?
Some might discount this as a romance thing, only. As in, only in romance would an author try to tease such an emotional response from their reader. I beg to differ. Many a literary fiction has done much worse to me than the majority of the romances I’ve read. And perhaps that’s why I want to bring emotional turmoil, real emotional turmoil, to my romance.
Romance is a part of life, as is tragedy. Oftentimes, they come hand-in-hand. Is this so in fiction? Not always. Does this mean romance and tragedy should never happen together in fiction? Not necessarily.
In fact, if an author can touch me in such a way that I feel as though my very soul was burned, I’m much more likely to recommend the book to a friend. That is what I strive for, something so…fierce, I suppose, that my reader is scorched, forever changed by my writing.
Tell me, is this something you’ve considered? Do you feel breaking the ice of your reader’s soul is applicable to your genre? Explain why or why not, I’m very curious to know how you feel about this.