A little while ago I was reading out a piece of my work to some writer friends. It was a picture book text and I knew there was something missing. 'Think of it as a love story' one of my wise advisers said. And she was absolutely right, even though this book was obviously not a romance; it was about a boy and his bear.
One of the most regular comments I make when commenting on manuscripts on behalf of a literary agency is that the stories lack emotion. The writing is detached and however good the plot is, without emotion readers will find it difficult to connect with the characters and the trials and tribulations they go through. This is especially true of young readers. I don't believe that this occurs because the writers themselves don't care about their characters or their stories. I'm sure they do but what they also need to do is to delve a little deeper and to dive into the story themselves as if they were actually there, instead of standing outside as if observing through a window.
A few years ago my husband was given a beautiful book by a customer. It was about Parma in Italy.
It was a beautiful, glossy, 'take you to the heart of Italian life' book. The photographer talks about photographing not just what he sees, but what he feels. I think the same theory should apply to a writer, but it is too easy to allow the impetus to press on with the narrative to stifle the 'feeling' which should be imparted with each carefully selected word. The photographer, Franco, also talks about looking, observing and being curious without ever stopping. Sometimes events get in the way of curiosity which can take a degree of time and energy. Sometimes it is exhausting to dive into another world, especially if the story is tense and stressful, but that is what we must do in order to convey emotions which will engage our readers. As writers we must remember to put feelings on to the page; we must love our characters and, by imparting this knowledge, encourage our reader to love them too. Because at the end of the day, every story is a love story of one sort or another.
Thank you for reading. Have a good week.