I was driving my car the other day, whilst keeping a lookout for deranged drivers and wild animals with a suicidal desire to become my next road kill victim. I am not being melodramatic here. After decades of driving on country roads, I have come to the conclusion that animals line the grass verges to wait for my car to come along. Anyway, during my journey the lyrical, haunting tune of Send in the Clowns came on the radio. A melancholy atmosphere descended as I absorbed the sad, beautiful lyrics sung by Judy Collins. I was about to start blubbering into my steering wheel, when I was saved by the DJs next choice, The Eurhythmics collaboration with Aretha Franklin, Sisters are doin' it for themselves. Suddenly the world seemed brighter and I felt empowered. I finished my journey with a big smile on my face and a slight bounce to my driving. Within a short space of time I had swung from normal, to deep sadness, to feeling extremely happy ... and it got me thinking.
Music is the end result of someone's creativity, just as a painting, a poem, a book or a beautifully crafted statue or figurine. There is an endless list of how a person's creativity can manifest, but I suspect that all creative people strive to do the same thing ... to evoke a feeling, an emotion, a reaction from those that see it, feel it, use it or read it.
A successful novel will evoke a reaction in a reader. Some novels will take a reader through the whole range of emotions. The transitions between these emotions and reactions may be sudden or deceptively subtle, gradual or a non-stop fast ride where the reader hangs on by their fingernails. Hopefully there will also be the odd moments of reflection or relaxation to make the next stage of the story all the more stimulating. A reaction a writer does not want to evoke is boredom or frustration with the plot or the characters within the story.
I believe that the holy grail of writing is to evoke the emotion that the writer intends to evoke, at the precise moment they planned it to happen, at just the right momentum a reader wants or needs. When a writer hits those markers, they have been successful in their quest. However, in my opinion, it is not the reader who has the greatest reaction in the end … it is the creator ... for they have achieved what they set out to do, and that is a euphoric, heady experience that cannot be matched.
Author of The Thief's Daughter
Do you agree that evoking emotions/feelings/reactions in a reader is The Holy Grail of writing?
Can you recall a particular book which evoked a strong reaction in you?
I would love to hear your thoughts.