I was among the crowd that waited for the first episode of Downton Abbey in this sixth and final season. I left my husband in the living room watching the Packers vs Vikings game and curled up on our bed to watch.
I admit it. I got hooked on this British series when it first debuted. Why? For one thing, I love historical fiction. And Downton is certainly that. It began on the eve of the First World War and in this final year, we have moved all the way to 1925. We've watched the characters grow in age, experience and sometimes wisdom. We've watched the failures and the heartaches of the characters, as well.
People have enjoyed seeing the way the wealthy of that era lived and understanding the life that those in service led. It's been one of the most-watched, most-loved series the PBS station has offered its viewers.
Julian Fellowes wrote the script for Downton Abbey, and who better to do so than a man who lived among the British upper-classes and royals? He definitely knew his subject.
All this brings me to what appeals to a reader--or a film viewer in the case above? What makes the reader come back for more? What things must you include in your story writing to pull your reader in so deeply that they never want to leave your story?
A few things I think you must have to appeal to your reader:
- Emotion without being overbearing or saccharin about it
- Enough twists and turns to keep the reader turning the pages
- Characters the reader can relate to in some way; likeable ones
- Suspense and tension--not only in mysteries but in all stories
- Settings that become a part of the story
- A true sense of place
- Success and failure for the characters
- Surmountable problems
- Descrption that does not take over the story but adds to it
- Tell the story, don't just report what happened
- Show more than you tell
- Proper mechanics of writing--people notice when it's poor
- Use of beautiful prose without being flowery; less is best here
There are, of course, other things but the list above is a good checklist for anyone who writes fiction, whether historical, contemporary or sci-fi.
Do you have other things to add to this list to make sure your writing rates high on the Appeal Chart? All comments are most welcome.