Thursday, April 16, 2009

Waiting for the Payoff

"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark." ~Victor Hugo

I had an interesting conversation with a woman yesterday who asked me if I'd read the Twilight books. (Note: if you don't know my opinion on them, here's a recap). When I admitted I'd read the first but not the other 3, she sighed and said, "I confess, I'm on the fourth one right now. I can't put them down!"

I asked her why, exactly, she loved them so much. (I'm always interested in knowing what keeps a person reading a particular book.) She said, "I'm not really sure. I think it's that I keep waiting for the big payoff."

And I thought that was such a great, honest way of putting it. Somehow, Stephenie Meyer has written a series that gets readers involved enough with the characters that they simply keep reading - through multiple books - to see if Bella and Edward WILL ACTUALLY END UP TOGETHER.

Isn't that what keeps us reading most of the time? No matter the genre or even the subject, when the author does it right, we turn the pages because we're promised some kind of payoff, some kind of resolution to all the conflict, and we simply can't wait to find out what it might be and how it might come about.

It was a good reminder for me, to continually up the ante and create believable conflict and angst when I write. We have to make the reader ache for the payoff!


Maria Zannini said...

The same goes for tv shows. It's television suicide to ever let the main characters get married. It changes the dynamics forever.

Cheers is the first one that comes to mind. Moonlighting was another.

--oh, no. I think I'm dating myself. I don't watch much tv anymore.

But this was an excellent analysis from that reader.


Mary Ricksen said...

I so agree Allie, it's all about keeping us wanting more!

Allie Boniface said...

Maria, you're right about TV shows having their characters get together. Even the one I love now, "Life," just ended its season with the 2 cop partners realizing they have feelings for one another. The romantic in me cheered, but the realist thought, "Well yeah, but what happens next season?" Romantic tension is a luscious thing...