You Know A Story Is Good When You Celebrate The Victories With The Characters

Posted: February 12, 2014 in Living and Life, Reflections, Writing
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Here’s a fun manga I highly recommend.

Well, that was a longer title than what I usually give a blog post. But it contains grains of truth.

Last night I was reading a manga in bed. The manga was Hikaru no Go, which is about a boy who starts learning how to play Go (a Japanese board game, for those of you who haven’t heard of it before) and how he becomes a better Go player. While it’s not the kind of story you’d expect to have you at the edge of your bed, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I wanted to know if the main character passed the pro test (in Japan, you can take the pro test if you’re under the age of 30), and was reading as fast as I could to find out what happened.

When I finally got to the last chapter of the volume I was reading, I couldn’t put the book down. They kept me wondering the results right up until the last moment, and when they finally revealed the results, I jumped out of bed and started doing a funny little dance. Thank goodness I didn’t shout for joy, though I was tempted to (I did not want to wake up my roommate, who had just gone to sleep).

But you see, this illustrates a very important point. While Hikaru no Go isn’t a very complex manga and its rating is for “General Audiences”, the author and illustrator were able to tell the story in such a way that you begin to feel the emotions of the characters and you wish the best for them while at the same time reading on ahead just so you can find out how they are doing. And when the resolution presents itself, you just want to dance like I did at the end of the volume I was reading, because you felt you were there and that you wanted to partake in the celebrations as well.

I think the mark of a great story is when an author can induce this effect in its readers. It’s an effect I don’t usually see in stories, but when I do they end up becoming some of my favorite stories. Every author tries to replicate that effect, and whether or not they do depends on the skill and experience of the author, as well as on the readers who take the time to commit to the story. I know it’s an effect I’ve been trying to create in my stories, and if some of the reviewers of my work are being truthful, I’m getting to the point where I might be able to insert that effect into my stories.

But how does one go about getting that effect into the stories? I’m not sure any author can answer that very well. The only advice I can give is that you should read a lot and take notes on what the writers did in the novels or other stories you find yourself celebrating with the authors. Then trty to replicate that wth your own stories. If your audiences end up enjoying your work and give responses like what you’re looking for, that they celebrated the victory of the characters, then I guess you’ve done your job.

What are some stories you’ve read that made you celebrate the victories of the characters? What do you think the author(s) did to make you feel that way?

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Comments
  1. This is why people have trouble with George RR Martin. He keeps killing off the likeable ones!

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