Friday, September 12, 2014
What Makes A Novel Great
I've researched and read hundreds of romance novels since my journey began as a writer. I tried to analyze what I noticed about the stories I read that either drew me in or turned me off. I remember one book in particular that stands out in my mind that I had a lot of trouble connecting too. First, I want to say that the author who wrote this book is an excellent writer. I’ve read most of her literary works and she is outstanding. However, this one story she wrote based on the Greek Spartan Leonitis did not capture me like I thought it would. I was really excited to read her fictional story based on him. However, after I read about three or four chapters, I put the book down and didn’t finish it. When I analyzed my reasons, I found I had trouble connecting with the protagonist in her story. It just didn’t click for me.
Then last October, I stumbled across another author whose first book had me absolutely riveted. I couldn't put the damn thing down. She really inspired me. I connected with her characters immediately. The protagonist in each book had flaws, but not the type of flaws that made them weak and not relateable. After I read that first book, I worked my way through the rest of this author's books and enjoyed every single one of them for different reasons. She captured the emotional elements in her stories perfectly and drew me in each time. It was like magic in my opinion. It’s definitely a gift in my opinion and this particular author possesses it.
So tell me readers what makes a novel great? I read a comment once by a reader that I thought was very interesting. The reader said, “The writer has to bring forth strong emotions in you. You have to leave the book feeling strong feelings about the ending. I’m not talking about where you strongly disliked or liked the ending, I mean you sobbed at the end or felt elated. Or you feel animosity towards one character, etc. A great novel also makes you think. It has thought provoking themes in it. Or you need to spend time unraveling the different characters in the books.”
I know an emotional connection is key, especially when writing romance. Without that connection, your reader will put the book down. We aspire as authors to find that connection and bring it out in our writing.
RJ Ellory said, ”Some of us, I imagine, write out of anger; some out of pain; some write out of prejudice or loss, some out of passion, the promise of something better, perhaps the belief that—even now—a book can be capable of changing a life. Some of us write to remember, some to forget; some to change things, some to ensure things stay the same. Some of us—as my editor and agent will all too easily testify—write because we cannot stop.”
What are your thoughts on what makes a novel great? I would love to read your comments and feedback on this post.