Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Are You Saving The Cat?

Ok, just a quick post today, still having the same online issues I've had last week (hence the no posting :().

Lately I've been thinking of ways to really bump my writing up to the next level, make it so the reader has NO choice but to keep reading.  You know those books, the ones that grab you with both hands, shake you about a bit, and basically make you stay up all night reading them?  Yeah, I wanna be one of those :).

So, I've been prowling about, digging through writing info to find out what makes one of those "gotta keep reading" books.  A lot of things go into them, but I think the grabber element is characters.  Think about the books and movies you read/watch over and over again- what makes you do that?  Characters.

Now since I write fantasy and SF, I focus on plot more than some genres.  But for me it's always about the character.  Who is this story about?  And more importantly- how can I screw up their life? (Which isn't nice when you think about it, we create folks we like then look for ways to mess with them....could be argued that writers are a tad bit sick.  But that's for another day ;)).

I really enjoy my characters, and often get feed back (those lovely helpful personalized rejection letters, and contest comments) that folks like my characters.

So it's all good, right?

Nay says I.  I forgot to add a bit to make the reader really deeply contect to the character. As the late great screen writing guru Blake Snyder stated- I need to have them save the cat. This is something early in the novel (or screenplay) that shows the reader a softer, often hidden side of the character.  Yeah, he may be a tough ass gangster, but he pulled a pair of kittens out of a dumpster  in route to a shake down (exagerated example obviously).  That element, of something kind, soft, gentle, heartwarming, or just a good guy moment helps the reader connect to a character on an emotional level, especially if you have characters that start off tough.  I would also argue that if you can work in a "OH!  I do that too!" moment (for me- tripping, being shy or embarrased, etc) will also help.  The reader doesn't need to have a character who is them, they just need to want that character in their lives.

I'll be going back and doing some tweaking to my first pages, make sure I'm saving those felines and building a book a reader will be unable to put down :).

Thanks for coming by!


  1. Thanks for this post- I never heard of Snyder, but maybe I'll look for his book.

    Laura K.

  2. Thank you for your comment Laura! I apologize it took me so long to post :(. I think you'll like the Save The Cat book though- lots of very good ideas for novelists!