Thursday, January 07, 2010

Nightmares: Our Gift to Readers

By Nichole Giles

Finally, after months of having it on my list of things to read, I got around to finishing The Hunger Games and its sequel, Catching Fire. All I can say is, WOW! It’s disturbing, and intriguing, and…even romantic in places. But the bottom line is this is the kind of series that really, truly makes a person think.

In fact, since I started reading it, I’ve been thinking so hard about the whole concept that it’s kept me awake at night. Yeah, I know, pathetic, right? Or not.

Setting aside that this series is done in first person present tense—which was unusual until the last few years and is extremely difficult to pull off no matter how good of a writer you are—the way Suzanne Collins portrayed these characters, this world, and the whole situation, is so well written that it feels real enough to give me nightmares.

Yeah, nightmares. Because the entire story feels so freakishly real. And if it were real, what a frightening place and time to live. It’s enough to start a rebellion…

Right about now, I’m very tempted to discuss some things about the plot and characters, but I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who haven’t read it. All I will say is that I’d like to start a campaign to save *&^%# (not telling who, or I’ll give it away). Because I believe something about this person is very crucial to the ending of the entire series. Please! I know it can be done. (And if any one of my author friends is lucky enough to get their hands on an ARC of the next in the series, I’d like to be first in line to borrow it—unless I find some way to get my own. Suzanne? Let’s be friends!)

Enough about that. I actually do have a point besides praising the books. Reading this series has once again brought to mind several questions about my writing. Will what I’ve written get under the reader’s skin until they’re itching to read it over again just to make sure they understand it right? (Which I did with Catching Fire.) Will it affect their sleeping habits and keep them awake at night by the very reality of the fictional concept? (Probably part of the reason I haven’t slept well all week.) Will my characters stay in the readers’ heads for weeks after they’ve put the book down? (As I’m sure these characters will stay in mine.)

Or maybe I should combine all the questions into one, big, all-important point. Will what I’ve written change the way my readers think or feel or act? Will it affect their lives for the better?

I’m not saying everything we write needs to be this way. We can’t always write about dark, heavy, spiritual, or life-changing themes. But everything we write can potentially affect someone. Or many people. The question is will it be for the better? We, as writers, have the ability to inspire deep thought in our readers. What will we do with that gift?

It doesn’t matter if our audience is a little child with a picture book, or an adult reading complicated fiction, or nonfiction, or anything in between. The whole point of writing, and reading for that matter, is to voice what's in our hearts and heads and bring about an understanding of those thoughts.

What are your feelings? If you can potentially make one point that changes the world, or the people in it, what will that one point be?

Give it some thought, and have a great week.

Until next time, write on.

**Warning. I will not be around this week to answer questions or comment on comments, but I will be reading them, and I really want to know. Maybe your comment will spark a new blog topic in a couple weeks.


Yaya' s Changing World said...

It would have to be that someone cares about you, the reader. I think that too many people today don't think that anyone cares and that is at the bottom of a lot of the problems.

~ Yaya
Yaya's Changing World

Carolyn V. said...

Oh man! I have GOT to read that book! I have heard so many great things about it! It's going on the list.

April Mitchell said...

I loved the books, too. At first it was horrifying, the whole concept of the book. Then I got drawn into the story. I truly cared for the character and their struggles. As a writer I think it is very important to be a reader, so you can remember what makes someone want to read a book.

Lecia said...

Would you be willing to post a link to ANWA's annual writing conference for LDS writers? Here is the linke to the correct page on ANWA's website:

Thank you!

L.T. Elliot said...

I'm totally onboard with the campaign to rescue *&^%#. =]

Have a great time while you're away!

Nichole Giles said...

Hi Everyone! I'm peeking in at the comments while I have a second. Thanks for all the thoughts on this.

L.T., shall we start a campaign then?

Lecia, yes, I'll get that link on here as soon as I get back in town. I'm a member of ANWA, so I should've done that already. And FYI, I will be going to that conference. =) Totally excited.