Ever read a book and hate it?
Chapter 1: I’m pretty sure the story isn’t one I want to hear. But. I stick with it. Hoping it will get better.
Chapter 2: Not much better. Kinda interested in where this is going, however. I’ll hang in there.
Chapter 3: Holy cow how much pain and suffering can one character endure? Maybe some happiness will come his way.
Chapter 4: Is there no plot here? Just eat, drink, have kids, suffer, and die? Keep an open mind, trudge on.
And so on and so on.
Last chapter: This ending sucks! No happy-ever-after. No lesson learned. NO HOPE!
As a beginning writer, and for all levels of writers for that matter, a good critique group is essential. By good, I mean a group that will give honest feedback. Not mean critique. Not ripping- the-heart-out-of-the-writer critique. Just honest feedback aimed at making both the writer and the story better. This group should not only teach a beginner the mechanics of writing such as, point-of view, sense of place, internalization, grammar and such, but should also guide the new author in what makes a good story. What does a reader want? What will hold his interest? What will destroy it?
I don’t consider myself a perfect writer. I am not the begin-all/end-all author. I don’t know it all. But I do have three published books and am working on my fourth. Also, I am a reader. An excellent reader. I know what I like. Therefore, if I were the leader of a critique group, I would stress the importance of hope. In my opinion, hope is a major ingredient in any story.
I’ve read books where the main characters have all died. Books full of pain and suffering. Stories teaming with negativity. But the author saves the essence of the story by giving the reader hope in the end.
Hope neutralizes sorrow. It may be one tortured step after another, but hope keeps us plodding along. Without hope Apollo 13 astronauts would’ve never made it home. Without hope the miners would never have gotten out of that hole in Chile. Without hope mankind would be lost. Hope gets us out of bed in the morning.
Hope makes the impossible, possible.
So, to all writers out there from the beginners to the experienced, always, always put a ray of hope in your story.
Hope keeps a reader hooked and keeps him reading.