Do we write our stories the way we live?

In Secrets of the Dead, you may not remember the plot, but you’ll know everything Ambrose Lincoln knows about himself. Of course, his memory was erased.


I WORRY A lot because I’m afraid the lives we lead is reflected in the stories we write and read.

There was a time when our lives moved along at a much more leisurely pace.

We weren’t in a hurry.

We left early. We were never late.

We took the time to meet people. We took the time to get to know people.

Then when something happened to them – if something bad ever happened to them – we cared and were genuinely concerned.

That’s the way it was with books and movies as well.

The story, as a rule, started slowly. We were meticulously introduced to each of the characters.

We learned their backstories.

We knew what made them laugh.

We understood what made them cry.

We loved what they loved.

We feared what they feared.

We uncovered their secrets.

And we worried about them.

These people weren’t simply names on a page or on a screen. They were friends. We even had a relationship with those we didn’t like.

The villain is an evil man.

He’s all right.

He’ll kill you if he doesn’t like the way you smile.

Yeah. But he loves his mother.

We saw their flaws.

We were appalled at their greed.

We were aghast at their jealousy.

We hated because they hated.

Then BAM.

Something happened on page one hundred or so, and the story took a nasty turn, went into a dastardly tailspin, and took us right along with it.

We were longer merely readers. We were one of the characters – always looking in, perhaps, never really taking part, but always smack dab in the middle of the scene.

Who would die?

Who wouldn’t?

Who would fall in love?

Who would be rejected?

Who would hurt the worse?

And sometimes we hurt the worse.

It’s not that way anymore.

We live in a far different world.

It’s hectic. It’s fast-paced. We often meet ourselves coming and going.

And readers prefer their stories the same way.

I fear we no longer get to know the characters as well as we should. It takes too long.

Click HERE to read more about Secrets of the Dead.

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  • I dunno. Getting deeply into the heads of those characters works for some readers and writers, and is why I put the keyword ‘psychological’ in my description.

    It can be just as emotional inside a character’s mind as out in the character’s world.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      The great stories for today’s market open with a flash of immediate conflict, then we learn the psychological motivations behind the emotions as the story moves along. Too often in novels I read, the characters simply run too far and too fast for those emotions to ever catch up with them.

      • Just as long as those emotions don’t become an infodump that stops the story in its tracks before I even care about the characters. SO many books do that. ‘Feed in the data, get it over with’ isn’t very subtle.

        I understand that certain characters, such as Navy SEALs, are trained to keep their emotions in the dark during operations – it would be dangerous for them to stop and get all thinky when capturing Bin Lauden.

        As you know, I like to raise questions, supply a few answers while raising MORE questions… constantly carrot and stick, applied alternately before anyone can get too comfortable.

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