I suppose every author wants to engage their readers’ emotions in a positive way. That’s not to say that every sentiment a reader feels needs to be one that warms their hearts or has them sighing in contentment. Yet, when they close the book for the final time, I want my readers to feel happy and satisfied, even if they suffered a bit—or a lot—along the way.
I have read a few books which moved me to such an extent, I’ll never read them again. I adored the books and am awed at the talent those authors possessed to create such realistic reactions from me. I felt every emotion they put their characters through. The conflict, tragedies, and victories in the brilliantly crafted plot left me loving the story, but unwilling to relive what the hero and heroine endured. The emotional impact was simply too intense. Once was enough, thank you.
If written well, we do feel the characters’ emotions, don’t we? Isn’t that an author’s goal, to get their characters to connect with the book’s readers? Don’t you, as a reader, especially enjoy books where you cheer for the protagonist and hiss and curse at the antagonist?
I always want to engage my readers’ emotions. I want them to gasp in surprise, cry in empathy, storm in outrage, and laugh until they pee their pants. What I don’t want is to either fail to stir them at all, or write a story that leaves a negative impression that lingers with them long after they’ve finished the book.
If they finish it at all.
Just like I mentioned above, I’ve also read books (some of which were critically acclaimed) that I loathed, and I do mean loathed. I came away disliking the story, hating the way I felt after reading it, and wondering, is this really what the author aimed for? A nasty glob sits in my stomach afterward, and it takes a while to dissipate. The negative feelings I associate with the story linger far longer.
I’ll never pick up a book by those authors again, because though I want deep and gripping emotions stirred in me when I read, I don’t want be left feeling like I’ve been plowed over by a herd of elephants or hit by a train. I actually threw two of those books I mentioned above across the room. To this day, I grimace whenever those stories come to mind, and it’s been years since I read them.
At the end of a romance, I want to be uplifted and inspired, even if the ending wasn’t quite the happily-ever-after I’d imagined it was going to be.
What about you? Do you prefer straightforward story telling that doesn’t engage your emotions, or do you favor stories that stir you, but leave you satisfied when you turn the final page?
All images are courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.