Depth

As I logged on to WordPress this morning I decided to read some posts about writing. I found one that struck a chord at See Jane Write.  In this post, Creating Depth, she talks about how she creates back story before beginning to write a novel.  In the post she says:

Depth in fiction is a pet peeve of mine. I read to learn as much as I read to be entertained…

And, I’m not talking about fiction vs. non, because in my opinion you ought to be able to learn just as much from a good novel as from a dishy bit of non, about historical periods or human psychology or literary movements. Say the protagonist is a mechanic or an opera singer or an oil tycoon, well, I want to know what that’s like, and I’m going to be kind of annoyed if I don’t learn anything more than that mechanics get oily and opera singers can be divas and oil tycoons spend a lot of money.

That is something that I can totally relate to.  I think it is why, lately, I have read fewer detective novels and more of almost every other kind of novel: I want to learn something.  Not that I don’t learn from detective stories, of course.  I learn as much from good detective novels as from anything else.  But “bad” ones are so focused on the crime and solving it that there is little room for anything else.

This is also something my son and I are striving for in the book we are writing – informing readers about feudal Japan. We are trying to give the reader information about samurai, of course, but also about religion and myths and legends.

I think learning as much as I have about feudal Japan is a big part of why I have been able to sustain interest in this project which began about a year ago and is now, I hope, almost in “final” form.  (Or at least final form until someone tells us we need to change it!) We are working on the second book in the trilogy now, too.  The challenge to find new areas to explore is pretty exciting to me.

I guess what I am saying is that the story is pretty important to me, but it isn’t enough.  I have to come away with knowledge of something that I didn’t have before.  I wonder if that is why I am drawn to fantasy lately.  There is a whole world to come to learn about and understand.  Hmm… I hadn’t thought about it that way before.

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