What draws you into a story?
I know what draws me into a story. I can only hope that when I write, I capture the interest of readers the way I've been drawn in so many times--totally, needing to finish; and finally closing the book with reluctance that such an engrossing experience has to end!
When I read, I'm all about the characters. If I don't feel an affinity with at least one of the characters in the first chapter, I usually give up on the book. I want to envy the heroine, and live vicariously through her for the length of the book. I want to empathize with her emotions, and share her joys and sorrows. And when she falls in love, I fall along with her.
So that means that I have to fall in love with the hero also. I've fallen in love with all of the heroes in the books I've written. I joke with my husband of many years that the only men I cheat on him with are the ones in my books. Because I still want to feel that exhilaration of unexpected joy, when you first realize that someone you're interested in, finds you attractive as well. Then there's the promise of flirting, where you both toy with each other, ramping up the expectations until you're both ready to explode. Then there's the excitement of finally discovering how you'll be together--and the bliss of sexual release. Then you get to experience that over and over again, as you do what cultural anthropologist Desmond Morris calls pair-bonding.
I read a lot of non-fiction, especially involving the psychology of why we act the way we do. I spent many months a few years ago, reading everything that Desmond Morris ever wrote. His insights on human nature are insightful and eye-opening. To someone like me, who studies people constantly, he answered many questions, and allowed me to understand better what I was seeing all around me. I've used much of what I learned in creating my characters, trying to make them so realistic you might expect to meet them in the street. In fact, I sometimes see people who I think I recognize, only to realize they resemble one of my characters so much that I feel I know them. I smile inwardly, and walk on.
Of course, I want to respect the intelligence of the characters also. If I feel a character is too stupid to live, that's a huge turn-off. If trite tropes are used, like casual misunderstandings that could be easily handled by the characters being mature enough to talk about the issues together, I'll stop reading. Alpha-hole heroes or heroines who want to dominate and control someone else? No thank-you. A leopard doesn't change its spots just because you fall in love with them and want them to change.
And yes, I do read novels that are not romance. The same thing applies: I have to empathize with at least one of the characters. I love sci-fi books. I enjoy fantasy stories. But whenever I try to write stories in those genres, they always end up featuring a romance or two. I guess I'm just a romantic at heart.
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Find out what draws other authors into a story:
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1RR
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com