Suspense is the key.
Release from suspense is what we yearn for, in the form of laughter or tears. And herein, you find the very essence of comedy and drama, the two major forms of literature. But there's more. We want to walk away from our reading feeling that we've gained something, that we are a better individual.
What do you get out of your reading? Before you answer in the comments below, let’s take a quick look at why writers write.
For some, writing is a flight of fancy, an escape from oneself or reality. In the case of older, more experienced writers, writing is an exploration, and in the best cases, it results in shedding a new light on reality. That is often the case with Boomer Lit authors: when they write a boomer lit novel, they populate it with mature characters like themselves who have faced many challenges in life. Boomer lit books are informed with the life experience of their authors. That’s what sets this genre apart from others.
Ultimately, a writer is always someone who feels he/she has something special to say... Yes, there is a certain lack of modesty here, but aren't all artists immodest? Besides, when you come across “great literature”, don’t you feel you are learning something? When you close that book, don’t you find yourself looking with new eyes – the author’s eyes – at the reality around you?
Whether a writer has something special to say or not is the litmus test. Nobody is interested in banal tales or cliché characters. Hollywood knows this: to evaluate the success of a film, they measure how many "emotional beats" it has. The more “beats”, the larger the audience.
Like movie goers, readers want suspense, they want to laugh and cry. They are interested in stories. The problem is that writers are interested in themselves or they wouldn't write. This is where you often have a disconnect between readers and writers. And this is why so many books are disappointing: the writer forgot that all the reader wanted was a good yarn.
So I'll let you in on a secret. I am a writer but I also happen to be my own most demanding reader. If I don't get a kick out of my own writing - if my first draft doesn't amuse me as I write it - then I stop writing. You have no idea how many novels and short stories I have abandoned after I was one third of the way through. Why? Because they bored me!
I know, the writing gurus will tell you that you should never give up, there's no "silver bullet" etc. Sure, I agree, there isn’t. But why finish something that bores you silly? Chances are that it will bore your readers even more! Indeed, that is one of the reasons why I never work out complete, detailed outlines prior to writing. I always jump in, hoping to keep my enthusiasm for my characters and plot alive, right down to the closing line. And sometimes, I'm lucky, my characters regale me with their shenanigans and surprise me with an unexpected ending. When that happens, I'm happy, I know the book is worth publishing (once it's been thoroughly gone over and edited of course). Otherwise, forget it! I don't mind, I don't want to see it.
If you're a writer reading this, let me know how you go about writing. And if you're reader, let me know what you seek from your reading, what kind of book makes you really happy? And if you’re a baby boomer, give some thought to reading Boomer Lit, you’ll be pleasantly surprised...
About the Author
Claude Nougat, a graduate of Columbia University, is a writer, economist, painter and poet. She is a prime exponent of Boomer literature and author of nine books of fiction, including two written in Italian and published in Italy. Her boomer novel, A Hook in the Sky, about a retiree-turned-artist has been termed “quintessential boomer lit”. Her most recent work, Forever Young is a ground-breaking sci-fi serial novel that renews with Orwell’s 1984 tradition. She is married and lives in Italy.
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