A neighbor, a petit ordinary woman, was certain a particular international terrorist had her home targeted. Now’s there’s a woman with a powerful imagination, though a bit twisted. People create illusions for a variety of reasons. Sometimes to spice up their life. Others may visualize scenarios as an exercise to plan strategies. In essence, people create novels in their head all the time. We are all masters of illusion.
In fact, we are illusion junkies. From video games to movies, we seek escape. And what about those fantasies that inspire romantic novels. Honestly now, how many of you have an “x” rated fantasy? Okay, okay, everyone put your hands down. Wow, the heat in this room just rose by ten degrees.
“Turn on the fan, someone! Hey, no pun intended.”
But that’s the whole point. Turn on the fans – particularly their imagination. Every author hopes to ignite the reader’s vision center, rev up their emotional core, and take them to a world they’ve never been.
Each reader’s reaction to a novel differs. Though the novel is well written some may not enjoy the story. Their reaction is based on their values, beliefs, personal history and life experiences. A reader may identify more strongly with one of the characters, or a particular event, or the setting may have taken center stage in the reader’s mind. Regardless of the reader’s reaction, if the author engaged the reader’s imagination, job well done.
There is one illusion which is the mark of a talented author. In these novels, the reader becomes one of the cast of characters – falling in love with the hero, fearing for the protagonist, fighting the antagonist, all as if the characters are living, breathing entities. Creating life-like characters will consume a large amount of the author’s time and talent throughout the plot. It’s not enough to create the big picture of the characters’ physical attributes and prominent personality traits.
The author needs to dig deep into each character’s soul. The scar he attempts to hide, the glance, the hesitation, the crack in his ‘armor,’ her secret desire, the sin, the private fantasy, a painful memory – these need to be tied to the plot in some fashion and be revealed gradually. A new treat every few paragraphs or chapters. The character should exhibit some growth, adaptation, shifting of values, rather than remaining as a static and rigid hero or heroine. The more the characters become three dimensional, the more the reader will be drawn into the fantasy.
Though some books are character driven, the author needs to ensure there is also a strong plot that compliments those characters. The setting should be clearly described to facilitate a demanding plot. Dialogue, character profiles, plot twists need to be carefully crafted in detail to ensure the reader is not confused or has trouble seeing. No one would watch a movie very long if the audio was too low or the screen was out of focus.
Normally a novel should include a balance of the good and evil, protagonist versus the antagonist. There is the possibility either could be victorious. Tension is created. There is an expectation the good will be victorious. The question is how and at what cost. What I demand in a novel I’m reading is that the ending is a surprise. If my imagination can predict the ending, it is likely I’ll put the book down.
I love to hear a reviewer’s comment, “I totally didn’t see it coming.” All thumbs up. I did my job.
Authors are expected to be masters of illusion. Readers are their willing prisoners. Readers want to surrender to the fantasy. Reality is to be blurred so artistically, the reader is unaware of the seduction.
Judy Weir (Feather Stone) is the author of The Guardian’s Wildchild, published in 2011 by Omnific Publishing. Over a course of ten years, the manuscript underwent several rewrites until Feather was certain that the reader would not just read, but also experience the love and hatred, fear and anticipation. Read more about The Guardian’s Wildchild at: http://www.featherstoneauthor.com
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