I was reading a young adult novel this week.
Let me rephrase that. I attempted to read a young adult novel until I reached chapter four, and I just couldn’t bear to read another word. I had to put the book down.
It wasn’t that it was evil or dirty. The cover was beautiful. The writing was bright, and the characters engaging. The author brought each person to life, gave them a past, and you just knew the story would share a future until the very last word amid the final period or exclamation point.
So why did I set aside a perfectly good book and weep? Only for the simple fact that the author wasn’t true to the characters stored within the soul of the memories.
It was so hard for me to lay down these pages. I wanted to know the ending and how the main character achieved her goals, but I just couldn’t bear witness as the heroine lost her way. I truly felt whoever wrote the book that she or he betrayed the heart just to write the story, not caring if their beliefs mattered or the time period matched.
My passion in life is to read, and I will read anything and everything within reason…cereal boxes, Reader’s Digest, marketing blurbs, I love it all. BUT I will not sacrifice or betray a book just to read a tale.
Our critique group, Wordsmith Six, works so hard to get it right. We try time and again to share our musings, but we are totally honest and true to our craft. Each speaks up when we hear an echo, or we lose our focus, or our characters stray off the beaten path. Every individual in our group helps us to get back on track before we stray too far afield.
Not only that, the speakers that present at our Panhandle Professional Writers meetings, and the presenters at our Frontiers in Writing Conferences, say in so many words time and again to remain true to the characters we believe in, that we write about.
As writers, we not only have the ability and the commitment to build a life and make it come alive, but we also have to honor the most basic concept of writing 101.
We can give our characters a twist or thicken the plot, but we must strive to always be dedicated to those we write into our stories. Instill in them a spirit and passion, trials and tribulations. Never forget that each person connects together at some point, and we have to stand steadfast for each and every one. And please note I would have had this same opinion as a reader way before I became a writer.
My Webster’s Dictionary gives the description of the word “foible” as a weakness. I have nothing against the author of this book, otherwise it was beautifully written. Someday I may return to its pages. To me this was a weakness that would have come across if there had been a strong critique group to catch the glaring errors. He or she has probably sold a million copies. I think it’s that good. And I can imagine that people of all ages have fallen in love with this book. I just can’t be one of them.
My loyalty lies with the characters. They deserve at least that much.
It’s as simple as this, and comes right down to this fact. Bees love flowers, bears treasure honey, and a leopard can never, ever change its spots.
End of story.