Friday, February 3, 2012

Know What You Write.

Today, I was thinking to blog about World Building, or Steampunk, as both are subjects close to my heart, but settled on the topic of "journey's" instead. Why journey's, you say?
Well, there are all kinds of journey's in life. Going on vacation is a favourite type, of course. So is starting an exercise plan. Quitting smoking. Becoming a parent. Yeah, that's a biggie, eh? A journey that never ends. But there are emotional journey's we go on as well as the physical. Like the roller coaster anxiety of writing a test. Getting married. Going through a divorce. Whatever the situation, in all journey's, who we were at the beginning of the journey is different than the person we are at the end.

Writing a book is a journey. Which is one of the reasons I started this blog, in the hopes that the ideas I stumble across on my personal journey of writing down the stories in my head, may be of use to others. I have been writing seriously now for five years. Learning and practicing the art of putting together a story, and along the way, I had to sit down and think about what it was I enjoyed most about the books I read. I mean, how can I set out to write a book if I don't know what  kind of story I find most pleasing myself? What truly grips me in a book and keeps me turning the pages until 3 am, or 4, or even later, knowing full well I'll be hitting the coffee pretty heavy the next day as a result?

The answer is simple. Regardless of genre, a good story to me, is one which takes me on a journey. I grew up reading sci-fi and fantasy. Loved, from an early age, going to far-off imaginary worlds and places where I would see new and fascinating things through the eyes of the characters. But it was always the emotional journey, the choices the characters made along the way and the things they learned about themselves as a consequence, that really made the stories gripping. As I grew older, I discovered other genres: historical fiction, romance, mystery, horror. But always it was the stories where the characters went on a journey, both of body and soul, that made me never want to put the book down.

Diana Gabaldon is absolutely masterful in her scope and ability of writing a journey. In Outlander, Claire travels through time to find her true love and true self, a journey made exquisitely believable by the ofttimes painful choices Claire makes. Life is never easy, but its that very hardship which makes the achievements and joys so worth fighting for and cherishing.

And in stories, the idea is exactly the same. It doesn't matter the length or genre; as long as there is a journey that can involve the reader emotionally, the story will be successful in keeping the reader doing what we all want as writers...reading.

What are some of your favourite books? How important is the journey in them?


  1. Outlander is at the top of my list as well. For me, it's also the emotional journeys that matter the most. I've tried to read straight sci-fi more than once, and can't get through the world building.

    But. Sci-fi romance? I can read that all day and well into the night. :)

    Very thought provoking post!

    1. I have the same problem with straight sci-fi these days too. Without that romantic element it just falls flat for me. Not enough inner journey going on :) But I know that sci-fi lovers really have a hard time with reading straight romance. Too much inner thoughts and mushy stuff and not enough cool techy things. There needs to be a balance for sure.

      Thanks for stopping by!


  2. Oh, gosh. I'm going to share my new copy of Outlander with our pal and CP Mary--she will love it, I know. (And it'll do much more good in her hands than on the shelf in my room!) That's such an epic story. Many internal and external journeys.

    I used to love the Clan of the Cave Bear series too, and Ayla certainly takes many journeys in those. However, I bought the ebook last year and really struggled trying to read it now--the world building and description is just entirely too much for me this time around. Also, it's more of an omniscient story, and it was hard for me to settle in with the characters that way. I do think those books get better as they go along, because I remember being way emotionally involved with Ayla and Jondalar. Probably not a journey I'll ever take again, though...not when we have so many other books to choose from these days!

    1. Oh, yes. Mary will really love Outlander! But isn't it funny with books, that some of the ones we loved to read lose their appeal over time? I have a few like that too. I'm not sure if tastes change as we age or if it's because as writers, our ideas of what makes a book engaging have changed. Probably both:)

      Thanks for your thoughts.