Let me entertain you! Let me make you smile! You’ll have to imagine the singing there folks.
Phillipa’s comment yesterday got me thinking. Entertaining is the writer’s first job. The number one priority. And one Phillipa does well in her Book of Love and forthcoming Fragment of Dreams. Scheherazade wouldn’t have lasted one night, let alone a thousand and one, if her stories weren’t entertaining. No use wanting readers if your story doesn’t capture attention – and keep it!
A story has to grab you, right from the first word and take you into a world where you want to stay a while. That’s where the true craft of writing comes in -something dear Katherine , crime writer extraodinaire is an expert at (check out her latest Violent Exposure). Suspense. intrigue. Strong narrative drive. The reader has to want to know what happens next. Whether this is to solve a crime or because we care about the characters. Even if it’s just whether the heroine is going to finally get her man.
One of my favourite books of all time is Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, and it’s definitely not high art. But it’s a great ripping yarn. I’d go anywhere with Scarlett. Life keeps knocking her down but she keeps on getting right back up again. Talk about resilient.
For me the best stories make you laugh a bit, cry a bit, think perhaps a little differently than before. They must entertain but more than that – they’ve got to touch your heart.