Readers read novels to be entertained. However, life isn’t all about entertainment. We want to learn more, to grow, to live a better life.
Can fiction help here? I think so. If you have credible fiction characters who live lives like readers. And it doesn’t matter what genre the novel is written in. For example, science fiction can present us with a future we might just not want, with the underlying story of just how it can play out. This requires believable characters who deal with these situations. Built into a good sci-fic story are elements of present time – such as law enforcement professionals and your every-day person like divorced parents, seniors, etc. Sometimes the professionals and the single mom are one and the same person. Although the characters have problems peculiar to a future time period to deal with; like us now, they have common day-to-day problems as well. So the reader can identify with the story and the characters and get a satisfied read. A science fiction author who does this very well is Robert Sawyer. Read any of his books to see how he handles it. And many of his novels also have murder in them.
In the mystery genre, there is a series by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts pseudonym) where the novels are set in the future. So the reader not only gets policing in the future,but also something many of us now balance – a career and a marriage.
In somewhat current time (in the late 1990s), my novel Beyond Blood, has characters that are representative of real-life characters. I have the fraternal twins (which may not be so common) Sebastian (Bast) Overture who is gay and Dana Bowman who is a divorced mother of a six-year old boy. Readers have told me that it is this relationship between mother and son that they relate to because they find it not only interesting but compelling. Of course, not all six-year olds are kidnapped (thank God), but here I have taken a universal relationship, that of a mother and son, and escalated it into the “what if?” area, where a mother is pushed to the edge to find her son before it is too late. And because Dana is human she may try to forge ahead as a professional PI and push her fear and other feelings back inside, we know that in real life this just doesn’t happen. She is conflicted, and yes she does lose it at times.
And that’s the key to writing fiction to teach a lesson. You need both realistic characters that readers can identify with and a plot that grabs readers.You need characters that are human, because we are human. This way you can show readers what your characters are like, what they are made of – but heightened to situations beyond what you would deal with in your life.
Remember, readers want to also be entertained.
You can read for yourself how Dana Bowman handles all her problems with her son’s kidnapping and all the complexities that occur, from an ex-husband who shows up as a suspect, to the stuttering Detective Sergeant Donald Fielding whom she is attracted to, to ….well, you may just have to read Beyond Blood to find out. Click on the book icon at the top for more info.
And I have a new website with a much different website design, thanks to Martin Crawford, computer software expert and Juni Bimm, graphic artist. The website text is purely my doing. So take a look here
Sharon A. Crawford