As well as an avid reader, I’m a music fanatic. In my house, music is a constant whether I’m working, relaxing or spending time with my family.
When I get the chance, I like to attend concerts. It’s a great way to break up the monotony of the everyday and remind me that I do actually have a life outside work and family (occasionally).
Last weekend I attended Sarah McLachlan’s show at Sydney City Recital Hall. I’d never been to this venue before. It’s hidden down a laneway off a very major road in the middle of the city, and I had no idea it was there before last weekend. It’s beautiful and suited to classical performances, but in this case it was perfect to showcase Sarah’s gorgeous piano pieces and her angelic voice.
It occurred to me when I was watching the show that musical performances are a lot like telling a story. You know ahead of time exactly what you are going to get: rock, pop, or classical, for example. You probably know all the songs. You might even be able to recite all the words.
If that’s the case, then why spend money to hear exactly the same thing you can listen to at home?
Because you’re there to enjoy the performance!
Don’t just write a story, put on a show
This is the second time I’ve seen Sarah McLachlan and she gets this concept really well. She puts on a show. She shares stories with her audience and makes them laugh. This time she invited people up onto the stage to sit on a sofa so she could chat with them.
By the end of the concert, not only had we heard some great music but I’m guessing most of the audience felt like we had connected with Sarah.
So how does this apply to writing or reading a book?
The importance of entertaining your readers
When I pick up a book, I also know ahead of time what I’m going to get. Usually it’s romance. Sometimes it’s a thriller or a mystery. I’m expecting that.
The difference between a good book and an average book is how well the story performs in the eyes of the reader. Does the book make you laugh? Or cry? Perhaps it makes you bite your fingernails in anticipation of what’s going to happen next?
With romance, we’re usually expecting a HEA (Happily Ever After). When you think about it, this can make the job of the writer even more challenging. How does a writer weave the story so the reader is still desperate to turn the pages when they know, in the end, everything is going to turn out alright?
In my experience, the success of this relates to the author’s ability to entertain readers.
Craft-wise you’ll need to draw on techniques including (but not limited to): your characters, the plot, your writing style (or voice), and pacing. But ultimately, your job is to entertain (when writing genre fiction anyway).
Put it all together and hopefully you’ll have something that’s going to entertain your readers!
Take a look at these musician’s entertaining style:
His style is outlandish and bold. The bigger the better.
It’s quite different to Robbie’s! Her’s is intimate and personal.
Do you think it’s important to be entertained when reading genre fiction?