I have been reading lots of comments on the new generation’s version of the great gender debate…can women write sex better than men? As a writer of YA fiction, this isn’t a major concern to me…though the ability of authors to convince their readers of any kinds of feeling/interaction is. Side note: The global success of ‘mummy porn’, the Fifty Shades series by EL James, suggests that she, if no one else knows how to tickle her readers’ fancy!
I digress. The point of this post was not to add to the gender debate but to hone in on how convincing writing has to be to engage the reader. Some want complete fantasy and fabrication; whether that means saccharine sweet or frightfully dark. As a reader I like both depending on my mood…I am a sucker for a happy ending, but I also like to be challenged and surprised at times.
A very dear friend of mine read my debut novel recently (after openly admitting she doesn’t ‘do’ that kind of book really). Thankfully, she loved the book (possibly a bit because I wrote it..but I’ll take that!) and our discussions about it have been fascinating and mainly focused on what made her BELIEVE in my characters and how I was able to convince her of their feelings.
As you might imagine, there is a love story throughout the book but I have always been cautious of not letting that swallow the rest of the plot, because I love the plot and there is a lot more going on that is equally as compelling (***I hope***).
She said the love story was on the brink of being too sweet, just. But that I pulled it back. I was fascinated by the interpretation and far from offending me, she paid me a massive compliment. I believe in their love story because first love is all of those things; consuming, over the top, sugary sweet at times and bitter, harsh the next and I wound this into them. I hope that this is what the purpose was of my own teenage heartbreak; to give me the tools I needed to write and do what I love and WOW, was I heartbroken (fixed only by meeting my lovely, now husband).
I think there is something beautifully intoxicating about they way we love and look at the world as teenagers and I suppose that is why I like to write in that voice. I can still remember everything so clearly that I pour relevant bits onto the page, hopefully in a convincing fashion (so long as my grown up self hasn’t diluted the memories too much).
My friend said – and this was the biggest crowd pleaser of all – that I made her remember what it is like to be a teenager and feelings she had forgotten were awoken in her. This, for me, is what it is all about.
Convincing characters for me are ones who force you to relate to them in just one or even million ways and I feel like if I can do that, create those kinds of characters then the rest will follow.
I am really interested in what makes you love or hate characters, so please…join in and leave a comment!
Thanks for visiting.
PS – Haven’t forgotten my promise to upload some of the new book, just trying to decide what bit!