Monday, February 13, 2012

Bad guys, cookies, and cold fingers

This is a writing blog, not a book review blog. So trust me, that’s not where this is going. That said, I just finished reading THE HELP, and I can’t stop thinking about it. When I had to put it down, I couldn’t wait to get back to it. It was on my mind when I went to sleep and when I woke up in the morning. Some parts were so gripping that I gripped my Kindle until my fingers grew white and cold.
All books have to have some tension, even comedies. BIG TROUBLE by Dave Barry has tension and much of the humor comes from that. But where does the tension come from?
The characters.
          Just before I picked up THE HELP, I was reading another novel by a really famous author that should have been every bit as good as THE HELP—better, in fact, given his track record. In this book, people were dropping dead from an unidentified cause, but I never really cared. I was too busy trying to figure out what the heck was killing them. He spent a huge amount of time telling us all about their lives, their loves, their disabilities, but still…With so much effort given to character development, why didn’t they develop? Too little yeast in the dough? There was no depth, like they were caricatures instead of characters – dry crackers instead of fluffy rolls.
Near the end, I was just reading the first and last line of every paragraph looking for SOMETHING to wrap up the plot so I could quit reading and go on to something else.
I want to care who I’m reading about – like or hate, doesn’t matter, as long as I feel some emotion, and it’s okay to like a bad guy and hope he wins. Do I want a cookie cutter good guys and bad guys and hope the plot carries them? And what’s with all the food metaphors?
THE HELP has tension which comes from the characters in scenes that ranged from horrifying to others that were so sweet tears leaked onto my pillow.
The writer knew that characters would make the plot work and she created really good characters.
Crap, did this just turn into a book review? I want a cookie.

1 comment:

angelaparsonmyers said...

I've heard so many people of different interests say that this is a REALLY good book, that I might have to give up and read it.