Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Vicarious Stress

I'm in a bit of a surly mood today, and I'm making myself write, so it seems like a good time to explicate a pet peeve.

Here it is: lately, people have been saying to me, "I really liked your book, but man, it made me feel so nervous." Then they grit their teeth at me and act like it's my fault that they felt even an ounce of stress.

Okay, people. 

Stories have to have rising action and suspense. That's how stories work. A character has a problem. The problem gets worse. The problem gets EVEN worse until we reach a breaking point. I taught this structure to my third graders, and they totally understood it.

There are no published novels about fun families that never have to face any adversity beyond a tense game of Sorry or Catan. The fact that you feel feelings while reading my book means that I did a good job. I did my job as a writer by making you care about the people and their situations.

I don't really want to hear about how stressed you felt as if it's my job to make you feel happy. You can just say, "I liked your book." Or nothing. You can say nothing.

See? I told you I was in a surly mood.

1 comment:

LH said...

Maybe people are saying it like it's a good thing?

Like.... whoa! your book was so tense and compelling! edge of seat kind of stuff. could not stop.


At any rate, I've been a wee bit on the surly side of late. Someone told me Mercury being in retrograde is messing everything up.