Genre for the Holidays – Anticipation

December 18, 2012 at 2:04 am (writing) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

One of the best things about the holidays is the anticipation. You know…that whole “visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads” thing? We anticipate our favourite holiday meals, receiving a thing or two (or more) from our wish list (heck, anticipation *is* that wish list), or the expression on a loved one’s face when they finally open that awesome gift we have squirreled away. It’s looking forward to the parties, the socializing, the opportunity to see friends and family rarely seen, or the chance to relax and enjoy time off. If you’re the type, it’s preparing for the decorating, the baking, the carolling or the outings in the snow. The point is, the pleasure is as much in the build-up as it is in the execution.

Well, I may be a rare fossil with backward ways of thinking, but that’s how I feel about books. I hate the current focus on “the hook” – that need to throw the reader into the middle of the action at the start of the book. I prefer a real introduction. I want to know who the characters are before I follow them into a dodgy situation (I felt I got that from The Unwilling Warlord, but it’s not a new book). I crave that build up, that creation of investment and suspense, a phenomenon that nowadays gets a book labelled as “slow to start” and often shunned for it. I’m not saying it needs a 140 page intro (Inkheart comes to mind – that one really is “slow to start” from my perspective), but I’m sick of books that kick you off the edge into chaos as soon as you open the cover, like leaping into a cold shower, rather than letting you ease into a tale, like slipping into a warm bath. I want that anticipation for what’s to come. It’s one of the reasons I prefer self-published or small press books, because the requirement for “the hook” is not rigorously enforced.

Think of some of the classics – would Charlie and the Chocolate Factory have been as endearing if it started with him opening the chocolate bar that held the golden ticket? That is the first significant event in the book, what would probably be considered “the hook” by today’s standards, but you’d lose much of the substance of the story without the introduction that exposes us to the abject poverty Charlie and his family live in and the true nature of his character (too much back-story, a modern editor might say.). It gives that golden ticket, and that brief moment of selfishness that leads to it, that much more meaning.

Honestly, how much of the fun would be left to Christmas if everything was just dropped in your lap on Christmas day, with no warning or build-up? That might be your perfect idea of Christmas, but it certainly isn’t mine. I’ll take my holidays, and my books, with extra anticipation please, because that’s the way I like them.

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2 Comments

  1. Christina Westover said,

    I love this post! I am a huge fan of classic literature, in the drawing out of emotions slowly and fully experiencing what and who the character is. I also love independent authors, and believe we are at the beginning of a renaissance which will be truly appreciated later in history. The only modern books I read are on telepathy or art or sci-fi novels written by you and Ren Garcia! Keep these wonderful stories coming!

    • Chantal Boudreau said,

      Thank you – I know there are many people who don’t agree with me on this but I can’t see myself changing my mind about it. I get a real thrill out of the anticipation and getting to know the characters.

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