Saturday, November 29, 2014

What Makes a Novel Successful?


Why do writers choose the stories they do? Is it as simple as figuring out a plot, some characters and a story issue? Or does the story emerge from the experience of the artist in an unconscious flow; he opens that vein and lets it bleed out onto the page?

To touch the heart of a reader there has to be a successful mixture of both a well constructed story and the magic of connection to something deeper. That is why when we construct a plot, our characters often change it up on their way through to its conclusion.

There are stories, but then there are scenarios that touch us, dig in deep, make us think and reflect on our own lives.

So, can a young writer touch our hearts like that? Or is it a generational thing that young writers only speak to young readers but seasoned readers don’t react as much to those young issues of angst any longer? Not necessarily.


As artists, we must enter the zone where the deeper knowledge resides if we want our writing to get to that next level. It takes work, clarity, sensitivity, reflection--a contemplative mind or a meditative spirit. The young writer does not often have that ability yet. For that matter, it is not a gift to the older writer, either. It is a life practice which some never achieve or don't wish to achieve--or don't even realize is an option.

One can access that level either consciously or unconsciously, but to write a book that makes a successful, meaningful connection to the reader, one must reach that depth of thinking and bring out the jewels to be had.

Story is important, but the deeper story within the plot is what makes connection with readers—whether they are aware of it or not.



Do you agree? Or, do you see it differently? And what is that deeper story within the story?


10 comments:

Ronnie Allen said...

Definitely the best stories result from deep introspection and / or embedded painful memories. Can't be afraid to bring up buried traumas. Readers will relate to the unveiling.

Krista Lynn said...

I think it's easy to lose the deeper story when one tries too hard to write for commercial success. A good story written from the heart may not always be a commercial success these days. Too many rules and the worry about marketing. The stories that resonate with me are those that touched MY deeper story somehow - the human tale we all share. Yes, it's fun to read a clever, humorous love story, erotic to read erotica, but they are summer beach reads that I will forget long before I do the ones that make me cry, feel wistful, feel compassion, feel DEEPLY about life -
Having said that, I have to admit Linda Howard's Open Season made me laugh so hard it is etched into my memory for all time. That story is character driven from word go - A deeper theme is may not always be necessary to make an impression.

Elsa Bayly November 29, 2014 at 4:00 PM said...

You could add to it all that our desires and values change as the years go by. What can be devastatingly important at twenty years old seems like no more than a blip of life at fifty.

Sandra Masters said...

I believe that the older we get, the more we experience and appreciate. Stories evolve from those experiences Appreciation comes with age as we recognize how frail life is. A book written just seven years ago has had a momentous journey for me. The characters evolve and the emotion sings to us. It's also the magic of the words we choose to use. So I agree with "all of the above". Good blog. Thanks

Jackie Taylor Zortman said...

Personally, I write from the heart. My first reader is usually my husband and I read aloud to him during the initial editing. If I get tears, I know it's good. This has always worked for me. I do believe we all "go deep" and draw on personal experience to write.

Cora said...

Yes, agreed Ronnie: deep introspection.

Cora said...

A deep theme or a serious novel, is not necessarily what I am getting at here. Humor is part of who we are and may be what we need most at a point in time. Obviously Open Season made that connection I'm talking about. Somewhere in your soul you needed that light touch.

Cora said...

Yes, Elsa, but my opinion is that a great story is a great story at any age. I have read children's books that have stayed impressed in my memory since first reading them--when I was already an adult. Having been a primary school teacher was an advantage. I saw a great many excellent children's books.

Cora said...

Thank you, Sandra, for your comments. I think we are on the same wave length about this subject.

Cora said...

Thanks for stopping by Jackie. "Tears in the writer, tears in the reader."