“Can you hear me now?”
Cell phones could possibly be the most annoying aspect of our mobile society. What with their dropped calls, pockets of poor reception and unbreakable contracts. Every time we leave our home and head north, we cross the ridge. Inevitably this is about the length of time it takes for DH or me to think of something we NEED to talk to somebody about.
Inevitably poor reception ensues and the calls are dropped after a series of crackly, “Can you hear me now”s.
Sometimes when I pick up a book, my connection is similar. The characters are crackly, the plot drops away altogether or the contract (my hard earned B&N gift certificate) is too expensive to walk away from it. Even if the connection is so painful I would rather pluck my armpit hair out with a tweezers than keep reading.
As writers, it is our duty to provide good service. While we can’t be responsible for all mismatched reception, we still need to strive to make the connections between our words and our readers as strong as possible. To do anything less is to risk losing our readers–forever.
My DD started reading a book last night, The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore. She picked it out at the book store over the very busy weekend and didn’t start reading until we were on our way home. I can tell that Ms. Moore mastered the connection because DD hasn’t put the book down. She brought it to breakfast this morning and even read it on the five minute ride to school. That says a lot.
I can’t wait for my turn, when I will have the opportunity to learn what grabbed DD. Was it the characters, the plot, the romance, the mystery? What did Moore do to connect with her readers and her story?
While I almost hate to admit it, I’m a shameless reader. I read virtually anything. Mystery rocks my socks off, but a bad mystery where the pieces are forced to come together with the antag spilling his guts to the tied-up protag makes me want to rip my toenails out with a plyers.
Romance is good. Slutty scenes for the sake of padding a word count make me a little anxious, and I actually skip over the throbbing members to get back to the good stuff. Too many gratuitious scenes in a row and the connection is irrevocably lost.
Another thing that makes me disconnect is language usage. It gets tiring to read the firetruck word every other sentence. To me, this is a big turn off and makes me think the writer is Lazy. Yep, with a capital L.
So when is the connection strong? Characters I can relate to. I don’t like perfect size sixes with gorgeous tresses and curvy curves sans saddle bags. That’s my biggest curve and I like others to share my pain sometimes.
Characters with a strong voice. Not loud, but strong. Ones who experience a wide range of emotions and react realistically to their situations. I love humor (that’s the main reason I married DH–okay, that and his good looks) and find myself drawn to MC’s who share my sense of the absurd. Wit and charm go a long way in my book.
Plot is less important, as I’m as likely to read a chick lit, a western or a techno-thriller as a picture book–and love them all equally. As long as there is some semblence of realism and continuity. I just finished a book that was written in the MC’s POV all the way through–except the one small section where the MC was knocked out cold and the details needed to be filled in. There was a quick POV switch, then back to the MC when he regained his consciousness. I felt like I had multiple personalities and it made my love for the book drop about three stars.
To all my readers: what types of things make a strong connection between you and the books you read? What breaks those connections?
To my writers: how do you create a strong connection with your readers? What types of elements are important to you in creating your fiction? What do you concentrate on so you’re not constantly wondering “Can you hear me now?”