Thursday, July 5, 2007

Author's fingerprints.

It's happened to all of us. You hear rave reviews about a book and based on this information, you drop everything and rush to get a copy. You clear the rest of your day and read, read, read, thunk. You hesitate to begin another chapter because you know the misery will continue. Trying to be positive, you force yourself to turn one more page. It has to pick up. Everyone loved this book. Is it you? You're desperate to have that same lovin' feeling as everyone else, but it's just not happening. To make matters worse, you can't quite place what it is that is missing from this book. All you know is, it isn't doing it for you.

I call this the author's fingerprints. This is what separates one author, one book, from another. It's that magical sprinkling that captivates a reader and makes us love certain books and authors. And yes, sometimes, for whatever reason, an author can forget to add this to their own work.

I know of one author who is loved by everyone, at least it seems like it. Although, my sister and daughter, couldn't get passed the first chapter, but that's another post. Anyway, when you listen to the readers, there is something just a little different that draws them to this author. But one thing you will always hear is, I don't know what it is, there is just something about the way she writes.

Writers need that unknown element. As indescribable as it is, reader's recognize it when it's there and when it's missing. So, what is the special something that you sprinkle over your work that makes people say, I don't know what it is, but it's there?


Jane Richardson, writer said...

Carol, I wish I knew. If I did, I'd be rich! I've thought about this before, and realised that the one thing the authors I love have in common is some kind of economy of style. They know how to pare the writing down to its purest, cleanest form - there's never a superfluous word, nothing you could red pen out. You know what I mean?
I too can think of an author who's loved by everyone, but try as I can, I can't get on with her. She leaves me cold - and in one of hers, when the sixth chapter introduced me to the sixth separate point of view, I'm afraid the book hit the wall with great force. That's partly what I mean by clarity, and that takes work. She hadn't done the work to keep the thing clear, but just hopped into another head, and expected the reader to do all the work she should have done.
I agree about an author's fingerprint, that's a nice way to put it. But I know there are some fingerprints I just don't like, too. I guess you can't please everyone!

Carol said...

Hi Jane,

I agree. I love it when I can read through a book with ease. I don't want to wade through a lot of baggage full of unnecessary information. It might have seemed necessary to the author, but they've not only lost my attention, but me as a reader. As the author, we need to keep it as seemless as possible.

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Absolutely. With ease, with a smile, and more often than not, with a 'grrr - wish I'd written that!'
J x

Carol said...

Hi Jane,
Oh, I've had a lot of the last one.

Susan Adrian said...


I'm coming to think that it's passion that I like best in a work. You can forgive some elements of craft if the passion is there on the page.

Carol said...

I agree, Susan. If the passion is there and can sweep you along with it, you are more willing to forgive other shortcomings.