Have you ever read a story that a friend raved about and then been stumped at the attraction?
That’s happened to me a few times lately, and I’ve been attempting to pinpoint why. Sometimes, of course, it can be chalked up to different tastes, or different life experiences that make a story resonate with one person and not another.
Lately, I’ve been hungering for stories in which I emotionally connect with the hero or heroine so much that my heart aches when theirs does.
This obsession seems to be spilling over into my people watching–an occupational hazard.
Sunday afternoon my husband and I and two youngest children went to a restaurant for lunch, and a young family caught my attention. There were four adorable blond children ranging in age from about four to eleven and a tired-looking dad. They were dressed like they’d come from church, well-behaved. The eleven-year-old girl was obviously used to mothering her younger siblings.
I wondered if the mom was trailing behind with a baby. Then when she didn’t appear, I wondered if she was sick at home, or had just had a baby and hubby was giving her a few hours of peace and quiet.
Nosy writer that I am, I soon found myself trying to catch a glimpse of the father’s left hand.
My heart sunk when I saw his ring finger was bare. I doubted he was divorced. He looked too melancholy, and I figured that if this was his weekend with the kids, he’d be more…alive.
So I naturally assumed he was widowed–every happily-married spouse’s worst fear.
Instantly, I was emotionally connected.
My heart ached for that little family even as my mind began re-writing their happily ever after.
Hours later, I found myself wishing we’d introduced ourselves, perhaps invited the children to come out for a ride on our sweet old horse. That’s the kind of person I want to be, and the kind of actions I yearn for my characters to inspire in readers.
Your turn: What kind of scenario squeezes your heart, or plays on your mind for hours after you’ve put a book down? Has a fictional story ever inspired you to change something about yourself or do something differently?
I love this, Sandra.
I’ve had loads of fictional characters inspire me…
Those are the characters we love and read over and over.
You have me thinking about the dad with the four children. I’m now emotionally connected.
You are reading my mind, Sandra!! lol This is exact type book I love…single Moms or Dads getting new lives, etc. I have read several books like that lately and loved them! Yeah, I am definitely thinking about that Dad/4 kids…and praying.
Oh yes, me, too. I woke up thinking about them and praying for them.
This so reminds me of my “A New Beginning.” I hope to rewrite that again some day and lengthen it to a trade length novel.
I love it when something inspires me to write a really emotional story. Can’t wait to see what comes out of this for you, Sandra!
I just finished Jody Hedlund’s newest, the Dr’s Lady, and really related to the heroine.
Funny you should ask about changing as a result of reading a novel. I read one recently in which a character named Jeanette was “efficient, yet not compassionate,” and I cringed. Now whenever I get impatient, I think of that, and try to slow down, so I don’t emulate this character!
You totally reeled me in with that story of the man and his 4 children. Here’s another possible scenario. Maybe his wife just up and left them all. That would certainly put him in a melancholy mood. Or maybe he’s their uncle and his sister and brother-in-law were killed in a car accident and he has suddenly found himself an instant dad in the midst of his grief.
Sigh — you can’t help but wonder when you see scenarios like that, can you?
I’m an emotional reader and I definitely engage with my characters. Sometimes authors do such a good job I feel like I’m on the downside of a crying jag when I finally close the book. LOL. I think the ones that have engaged my emotions the most have been when the heroine has really struggled to find herself — believe in herself. It’s her inner turmoil and subsequent growth that rip my heart out!
So is that little restaurant family going to find a place in one of your novels?
Thanks, Eileen…I started the story this morning! I just couldn’t get that little family off my mind. Have I inspired you to dust off yours?! I’d love to read it.
Kav, I love your uncle idea, because then there is no comparing the new woman to his wife, which for the short Christmas novella I’m thinking this will be might be better. Hmmm. 🙂
Jeanette, that’s a great example. I read a novella this weekend that had me really noticing and appreciating all the little things about my hubby that I fell in love with. Always a good thing. 🙂
I can identify, Sandra!
Characters are vitally important to me. I love reading or watching (movies) characters who are a little quirky, who struggle a little with confidence, yet have lofty goals.
Hmm . . . maybe they’re a bit like me! : )
Quirky, Cheryl? 🙂 You know what they say, admitting your problem is the first step to overcoming it–Big Grin–