This is the million dollar question every writer asks herself as she sets about telling her story.
What do readers want most? Entertainment? Believable characters? A trip to a faraway land, another world, or another time? To experience a situation that would never happen to them in Real Life?
There are several books I’ve read over the course of many years that stick in my mind. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran is one of them. It’s my go-to book when I’m on an emotional roller coaster. There is so much truth in this little book with its small, poetic chapters…for me, it’s the Bible of common sense and how to live.
I have been thinking about this as I finished Eden Springs by Laura Kasischke, one of my favorite novelists.
Why am I still thinking about this book days after finishing it? It’s a small book (novella length), it’s a period book (Michigan in the early 1900’s), it’s a departure from her usual novels about broken people. I shouldn’t have even liked it.
I’ll tell you why I love this author, and others who write like her.
1. Her words are poetic without being purple. She does wonderful things with them. Not verbal gymnastics, an in-your-face exercise, but more like a beautiful, slow ballet. Of course, I’ve always been a sucker for an artful turn of words, which is why I love singer/songwriters like Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan.
2. Her characters are so believable, you can’t help but wonder what happened to them after you’ve reached “The End.” I still think of the survivors of In A Perfect World. Other talented authors like T. Greenwood and Michelle Richmond also populate their stories with very tangible characters.
3. I have the distinct impression (and I could be wrong, I’ve been known to be wrong about lots of stuff) that she writes from her heart. She’s not writing for an audience, but rather for herself, for her craft.
And now I am opening the floor. What about you? If you’re a reader, what makes a story stick in your mind? If you’re a writer, how can you conjure your words to achieve the same effect?