As I was doing my final edit on the last 40 pages of Fourth and Goal before submitting it to a publisher, I came to one poignant scene that actually brought tears to my eyes. As I finished the scene and pulled myself together, I thought: Wow, I hope it affects readers as much as it affects me.
I started thinking about books that strike an emotional chord in the reader and how rare they are anymore. Fifteen to twenty years ago, it seemed as if you could read that kind of book on a regular basis. Now, I might read one “can’t put down” book" a year.
If my perception isn’t skewed, then what happened to create this problem? Do writers not write as well as they once did? Do they not put their heart and soul into each book? Has it become too much of a money-making business and less of a creative endeavor.
Maybe it's all of the above and more. I believe the pressure to produce has caused authors to write a technically good book, but often it has no soul. The characters don’t come to life and become your closest friends for the brief time you spend in their lives and their heads. You don’t root for them, cry for them, rejoice with them. You might enjoy the story. In fact, you might enjoy it so much you’ll buy more books by the author, yet it still lacks something. Have we, as readers, created this problem by clamoring for more and more books by our favorite author? Have we inadvertently caused the publication of soulless books? Because in the pressure to produce, a writer doesn’t have time to develop and explore their characters, really get to know them, and give them life.
Many authors I’ve loved over the years are now producing dull, shallow books with characters I don’t remember for five minutes let alone a lifetime. As a reader, I’d rather read one exceptional book a year by my favorite author that read three or four forgettable novels.
All I know is I want to write the kind of book that stays with people, the book they read over and over again with the characters they remember fondly like the childhood friend who moved away. Perhaps, crying when reading my own scene is a step in the right direction.