Forgive the wandering, naval-gazing nature of this post, but I think both writers and readers can appreciate this issue: Passion.
Not the kind found between Heather and Isaac in NEED, but rather the kind that is evident in the writing itself. When an author is passionate about a certain topic, storyline or character, it shows. The writing leaps off the page.
Now that I have three books published with a fourth well in the works, I’ve been thinking about passion and what it looks like, feels like, and how to conjure it.
STORY OF THE HEART
For me, WANT was the story of my heart. I began not with a plot, but characters and a lush setting. Everything about that story is passionate because it’s so close to my heart. I spent three years with Juli, Isaac and Dave, and it shows in the writing. Most reviews remark on the “lyrical” and “transportive” qualities.
Not so much with the other two books. Why? I’ve come up with two reasons.
1. I was under no deadline with WANT. I hadn’t read all about what you’re “supposed” to do when writing so I just did what felt natural and then revised the crap out of that puppy. I had as much time as I needed.
2. The other two books were somewhat outlined, more plot-driven, and written under deadlines, particularly NEED. (Seriously, what got published is basically my first draft. Not even kidding.)
That’s not to say I wasn’t passionate about the other two books. I was (am) but not to the degree of WANT. In that first book, I was passionate about the subject matter, the setting, the quirks and the psychological aspects.
In SHRAPNEL, I was passionate about bullying, LGBT issues, the concept of a tough girl with a soft, naive center, and the historical aspects.
In NEED, I was passionate about the psychology and power play between Heather and Isaac. I wanted to show that even villains have redeeming qualities.
With this current WIP, I’ve gone in a whole different direction. It’s slightly political. I hate to let the cat out of the bag, but it explores a concept near and dear to me. Although I now live on the Gulf Coast, I grew up in rural Ohio and used to be copy editor at an agricultural newspaper. I’m passionate about those issues, and the concept of becoming too far developed to the point that no one knows how to take care of themselves anymore, grow their own food, and be somewhat self-reliant.
Original? Not really. Timely? Oh, yes.
The writing style will be very different from that in WANT, but I hope the passion shows through. I’m not sure there’s a way to teach that or to even consciously make an effort to write with passion.
Is there? Seems like it either happens organically or is doesn’t.
Of course, there’s also that little (or LOUD) voice in every writer’s head that says, “Oh sure, honey, everyone can write one good book, but real writers write many good ones. You, my dear, are a one-hit wonder.”
Is it a matter of passion? Circumstances? Talent? If you know the answer, please, leave it in the comments along with the meaning of life 🙂
Writers: How do you make sure your writing is passionate? Readers: Can you tell when an author is passionate about his or her story? How?