Did I Really Write a Feel-Good Book?

It will be interesting to see what people say about my books; I’m beginning to think I have no idea what I wrote. For example, A Spark of Heavenly Fire is the story of four ordinary people who become extraordinary while struggling to survive quarantine and martial law in Colorado. It was supposed to be a hard-hitting novel with an edge, but my proofreader told me, “You might do well. I think people are ready for a feel-good book.”

A feel-good book? Where is the edge? The horror? The feeling of doom? According to said proofreader, “Those elements are in the background, but the characters are the story. And they are heartbreakingly real.” Oh.

I thought I couldn’t write good characters. Most books on writing (and many authors) say that a writer has to feel what her characters feel or else the reader won’t feel the characters’ emotions. If you don’t cry, neither will your reader. But I don’t feel what my characters feel. Writing erases emotion, takes me to a place of serenity. And serenity is not generally where you want to take a reader. But I am deliberate in my choice of words and in the details I include. Perhaps those elements combine to help overcome my lack of emotion.

Of course, I generally don’t feel the emotion in the books I read, either. Often, despite the blurbs and reviews that extol the great characters, the characters seem to be only props on which the author hung the story, and a banal story at that.

Perhaps, after all, I won’t mind if I haven’t written a book with an edge. There are plenty of those out there. But I do like my proofreader’s description of my book. He wasn’t the first to use the phrase “heartbreakingly real” about my characters, and with any luck, he won’t be the last.

I can live with that.

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4 Responses to “Did I Really Write a Feel-Good Book?”

  1. A. F. Stewart Says:

    I find readers generally see very different aspects in your writing than you as an author.
    Several people have found romantic features in my stories that I had no intention of writing or even thought were there.
    As long as they enjoy them, I say.

  2. Sheila Deeth Says:

    I guess we all see something different when we meet new people, in real life or in books. Maybe it’s a sign of your writing prowess that your own emotions are hidden (and serene), while your characters go ahead and win through the struggle.

  3. ~Sia McKye~ Says:

    Pat,
    I think there is a mistaken assumption in writing emotional impact into our writing. What it is and what it’s not.

    I can write about fear because I KNOW what fear feels like. It doesn’t mean I have to feel my heart racing, have clammy hands, and hyperventilate as I’m WRITING the scene. I know what anger feels like too, and what makes me angry, but when I write it into the story it doesn’t mean I’m FEELING it at that time.

    When I write it I remain rather clinical. I have to because I’m ultimately the narrator and I’m driving the story. But if I’ve done job right with building the characters and putting into situations that trigger an emotional response from each other and in facing the plot situation, then your reader is going to feel an emotional response. You see what I mean?

  4. joylene Says:

    If characters are on the edge and survive, that would leave me with a feel good feeling. If something very bad happens, but the characters pull through – that would leave me encouraged.

    It’s scary putting your baby out into the world and then waiting for the reaction. You’re doing well, Pat. If your book leaves me feeling good, hey, that’s great. I haven’t ordered it yet. My husband has me on a tight book budget, lol. But both your books are on my list.


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