Sometimes I read reviews or hear about books that elicit strong reactions from people. The books affect them in a momentous way. They weep during the reading, or laugh all the way through it. They're inspired or challenged. Their minds and lives have been changed by the arrangement of words the author has placed on the page.
These are books that linger in people's minds long after they reach the final words and close the book (or turn off their e-reader). I think that's fascinating!
How can we make our books this powerful? Consider the following list.
IS YOUR STORY:
1. Compelling. Does it make people stay up past their bedtimes, unable to quit reading?
2. Exciting. Does it make people's hearts pound as they race through the pages?
3. Humorous. Do parts of it make someone snicker, chuckle, or laugh outright?
4. Poignant/sad. Do parts make people cry or feel grief as they relate and sympathize?
5. Emotive. As a whole, does it elicit a varied range of emotions, make people FEEL?
6. Affirming. Does it promote an appreciation of life as something worthwhile?
7. Life-changing. Does it cause people to look at the world in a totally different way?
8. Thought-provoking. Does it cause people to contemplate or reconsider their views?
9. Challenging. Does it stir up controversy, test long-held beliefs, defy the status quo?
10. Inspirational. Does it encourage, foster joy, generate exhilaration, or spark creativity?
11. Intriguing. Is it fascinating and wondrous, presenting something in a unique way?
12. Beneficial. Does your book cause an effect that improves/betters the world/people?
13. Wholesome. Does it affirm high morals, affirm positive values, promote integrity?
14. Instructive. Does it show others how to solve problems or find courage to change?
15. Informative. Does it tell about science, politics, nature, etc? (usually nonfiction)
16. Entertaining. Does it help people unwind, relax--or provide a much-needed respite?
No one book has to do ALL these things, though I suspect the "classics" or most popular books contain more of the things from this list than their counterparts. It's also true that it's extremely subjective; what affects one person will not affect another person in the same way.
But that's what makes writing challenging and exciting, right?
Do you think a book must contain some or all of these things to be successful?
How does your book rate with this list; do you need to improve in certain areas?
If you had to choose THREE points from this list--the things you'd definitely want your story to be--which ones would you select?