Friday, November 26, 2010

Food For Thought Thanksgiving, Part 2: Fiction To Truth - As Readers, What Do We Need To Find To Connect With Fiction?

We're all readers.

And so I put it out there to you all: How do we manage to emotionally connect - to care - for fictional characters who are - on the surface at least - nothing like us?

I think it's because below the surface, under the spacesuit, or saffron robe, or Cowboy chaps - below all that exterior stuff of the story, good writers manage to tap their fictional characters into our common humanity.

We've all felt hurt. And fear. And longing. And hope.

And when fictional characters feel that, whether they're Tally Youngblood in Scott Westerfield's "Uglies" or Liza in Nancy Garden's "Annie on My Mind" or Harry and his Wizard friends in the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling - we feel connected to them.

The magic of reading - of fiction - has happened through that common humanity of emotion, and so we get to experience the adventures with and through those characters - at a safe distance.

That's the Greek Catharsis- and as readers, I think it's what we crave. Characters we care about. In a good story. Well told.

What I need to connect my truth to fiction? Emotion.

How about you?


Pat Schmatz said...

I find that physical sensation really helps me to connect, too. So even if an event is fantastical, or in a different world, if it is firmly grounded in sensory detail then I get sucked into the story - and the emotion...

Sally Bibrary said...

I think you're right, hon - emotion is a huge part of making that connection. Authors can spend all the time they want world-building, developing plot, creating conflicts, etc. If you can't create a connection between your characters and your readers, though, the all you've done is leave disposable, forgettable postcard (no matter how pretty it is).

The best books are the ones that make me cry, clutch the book to my chest in joy, or even hurl it across the room in fury. The darker emotions connect just as well, and sometimes that kind of connection is more lasting.