Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Getting Lost in the Story

I’m one of those people who can completely get lost in a story, become part of the action and emotion swirling around the characters. My heart thuds in my chest along with the heroine’s as she rescues horses from a burning barn and it leaps for joy at the sight of the man she loves (TwoBrothers). I feel the beat of the music as a dancer takes the floor at a nightclub on the arm of a handsome partner and the pain experienced when the truth is revealed (Silent Partner). The tickle of fear streaks down my spine with a sickening churn in my stomach when I see the face of a teenage girl trapped in a burning building (Silent Scream).

But that’s me. 

I’ve learned over the last 9 months that not everyone gets totally lost in the story, even an exceptionally well written one. They can’t let go enough of their surroundings, their thoughts or worries to become one with what they are reading.
To me, this is the whole point of reading—it’s an “escape hatch” as Stephen King would say. And yes, I’m slightly addicted to King since finishing his book On Writing. I never expected to like it so much. 

Anyway, I’ve also learned that there are those who get even more engrossed than I. They invest so much of themselves into the story and the characters that they become very angry with the author for not giving them the ending they expect, the closure they feel they and the character deserve. 

As a reader, I don’t begin reading a book with an expectation of how it should end, except for the necessary happy ending that the romance genre is known for. That is why I read romance. I don’t expect the characters to act or speak a certain way. The unknown is part of the journey, the best part, in my opinion.

I started out writing this thinking about a few typos in my own published books. Some people noticed and some didn’t. Then an author friend told me not to worry, she found typos in every book she’s ever read. Okay, she actually mentioned my favorite author’s name, which I refuse to repeat. If you know me or have been here before, you know of whom we speak. I’ve never found a single mistake while reading many, if not all, of this favorite authors books. Why? I think it’s because I’m so immersed in the story that I don’t notice the mistakes. I’m not just reading the words, I’m living it, feeling and breathing it.

Some, maybe most, of the ability to get lost in a story depends on how well it’s written. But I think it can have a lot to do with one’s ability to let go of the real world. It’s kind of like sex, they say a woman can’t reach orgasm if she can’t relax, if she can’t let go of the worries of her day, if she’s uptight, tired, or stressed. Maybe the same is true when it comes to reading. If we are feeling guilty about sitting there, doing nothing, and thinking, “I really should clean or cook…” or whatever else it is we heap on our shoulders, then chances are we aren’t going to relax enough to get lost in the story.

So what do you think? Is it the Author’s ability or lack of to pull us in? Or do our own lives play a part in keeping us from getting lost in the story?


Calisa Rhose said...

Very insightful, Tina. I agree. For me to 'escape' I have to shut that door to reality and open my eyes to fiction. Yes, it helps if the story is well written, but I have read a book or two that weren't as well written as they should have or could have been. Did I enjoy them? Maybe not as much, but I let myself overlook the flaws if a book has a really good premise carried out, though there are a few typos and erroneous words. It's all in how much I want to escape. Great post. :)

Christina Wolfer said...

Hi Calisa. I'm reading a really good story right now that is very well written, but I'm not finding myself running back to pick it up in my free time. I think it has as much to so with what is going on in my personal life, where I am mentally, as it does with how well the story is written. The story is intense and I'm just not in the mood for that right now. Thank you so much for stopping in.