Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Awesomeness

First off, there is a week left in my publisher's Kickstarter campaign. Show interest! Tell your friends! We'll all thank you if we can make our goal.

Second, I want to talk about awesomeness in writing. When I say "awesomeness" I mean a very specific trait. I don't mean what you, as the writer, like. I know a lot of people who geek out over Renaissance literature, and while writing that into a novel will be fine and dandy for them, I don't think it would count as awesomeness. So, what is awesomeness, and why should writers care about it?

The idea for this post comes courtesy of a classmate who brought this to class.

This is a clever list of elements that are generally considered awesome by the public. It's a little dated (mullet? really?), but a lot of these are still awesome.

Here's my definition of "awesomeness": it's the collection of ideas that make you, the writer, and the reader smile and go, "Ooh." These are the things we never quite grow out of being interested in. As a child, we like spectacle, magic, superpowers, royalty, epic battles, and time travel. Which is why I think Doctor Who is so popular. Try to imagine a child, teenager or young adult going to a movie. What are they going to talk about when they come out? Will it be the scintillating dialogue or the deep symbolism? Not likely. They're going to talk about the jokes, explosions, and ninjas.

I'm not advocating throwing literary writing to the wind in pursuit of what will sell. But that which is "awesome" does sell. It keeps readers interested in the story, which is not a bad thing. You can have the most symbolic, high-brow story every written, but what good does it do anyone if no one reads it? The Elements of Awesomeness are also valuable in that many of them introduce conflict or are signs of conflict that already exists. Stories thrive on conflict, especially certain genres.

Final point: when writing an adventure, fantasy, science fiction, thriller, etc., anything that is meant to raise the reader's heartbeat and keep them from putting down the book, add awesome. Keep the thrill ride going. For introspective stories that focus on the importance of the mundane, remove these from the story. You want the reader to find the meaning of small moments, and they can't do that if your hero is walking in slo-mo away from an exploding building.

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