Good fiction is just good writing. A powerful novel takes us away from our own lives and magically transports us to another place, often using a mysterious quality to also take us through time to not just where, but when, we have never been. Take us away and we’ll give you hours of our time. It’s a trade-off we’ll make time and again, even with the same book!
Sure, the story is the boss, and a great plot leads to a great story, but it’s not the whole deal. We want the real deal. We want believable characters with their own baggage. The main character doesn’t need to have a peg-leg to grab our attention, but some simple idiosyncrasies are great. And, we want to identify with someone, somehow. Otherwise, we have chores to do.
When John Grisham first became a household name with his novel and the eventual movie The Firm, he told a great story. It was rough and tumble, it was fast and fun, it had believable characters, and then we let the big plot holes and goofs by both the good guy and the bad guy go because it was such a roller-coaster ride. In a later novel, the characters in A Painted House stand alone as both believable and still exotic compared to our own daily lives. The story is set in the ’50’s. For most of us, that’s a world away.
However, Grisham never let the plot or the characters slip. They did things that made sense and acted sensibly. Maybe not to us, but to the characters, based on what he had earlier presented. That’s the believable part for me and for most readers. You can get outlandish, but you better be able to back it up somewhere in the story.
Some Upcoming reviews include:
Henry Simpson’s Finding Elysium