Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sunday Story

Oops... it was the long weekend and I went to Sydney and I forgot to do my Sunday column. Sorry!

I've been wading through a mammoth book, Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. I wish I could say I loved it but the characters were not my type of people. So why did I keep reading it? Good question. I almost stopped so many times. The things that kept me going were that it was full of universal themes, many I agreed with, and the writing was a pleasure to read.

I think the fact that Mr Franzen wrote a book that I didn't enjoy but also didn't stop reading (and it's a door stop, not something little) is a tribute to him. How did he make me keep going? How did he make me push through when I wanted to put the thing down and walk away?

I think it was the way he switched and changed the story and left you with hooks. The most memorable was when the son was in business trouble (business, financial, moral, ethical, the lot) and he rang his Dad (who he did not get along with) and said, "Dad, I'm in trouble. I need your help." How was this going to pan out? The Dad was a man who could have blown up at the kid or he could have helped out, you weren't sure which. But turn the page and we're on another plot thread following another person and we don't know what the father said. We don't even know how the kid is. You have to keep reading to know. Some of these hooks you had to wait until the end to find out what happened. And that's what kept me going. Damn it!

I hate hooks as a reader. I fall for them totally. I'm the girl who sits up until 5 am because I just have to find out what's happened, eyes barely open, brain pleading to go to sleep... but no, the hook is in and I need to find out what happened.

Do I write them? Not well. Usually I end teh chapter on a hook (I've learned that much!) but turn the page and I tell you what happens! LOL. Useless. I need my hooks to carry on for longer than that. I need whole story hooks.

And that's this week's lesson. Thank you, Mr Franzen.

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