Monday, June 27, 2011

Least Likely

I read in all genres. Because I never know where I am going to find genius. And, as a writer, if I don't explore all options, then I'm limiting myself. Like Alyssa says, in Chasing Amy:
Alyssa: You know, I didn't just heed what I was taught, men and women should be together, it's the natural way, that kind of thing. I'm not with you because of what family, society, life tried to instill in me from day one. The way the world is, how seldom it is that you meet that one person who just *gets* you - it's so rare. My parents didn't really have it. There were no examples set for me in the world of male-female relationships. And to cut oneself off from finding that person, to immediately halve your options by eliminating the possibility of finding that one person within your own gender, that just seemed stupid to me. So I didn't. But then you came along. You, the one least likely. I mean, you were a guy. 
Holden: Still am. 
Alyssa: And while I was falling for you I put a ceiling on that, because you *were* a guy. Until I remembered why I opened the door to women in the first place: to not limit the likelihood of finding that one person who'd complement me so completely. So here we are. I was thorough when I looked for you. And I feel justified lying in your arms, 'cause I got here on my own terms, and I have no question there was some place I didn't look. And for me that makes all the difference.
I don't normally go in for realistic fiction. You know, coming of age stories, without all the flash of aliens or doors to other lands. However, some of my favorite books are in the realistic genre. And I know they are good, because I didn't seek them out. I didn't hunger after their plots or ideas. And yet, when I picked them up, they spoke to me. They were the least likely stories for me to fall for, and yet, I did.

Recently, I've been glued to The Bachelorette. A type of show I don't normally enjoy. Which is not a dig toward the people who are die-hard fans of the show. There are no judgments here. But, that show had never held any appeal to me at all, until this season.

This season, there are plot twists, naivete, subterfuge, backstabbing, and all kinds of train-wreck ingredients. I'm hooked. I want to find out if this girl is going to make it through relatively unscathed. I'm not wondering if she is going to find "the one". I am wondering if she will ever trust guys again.

Maybe she'll veer off her path, toward the least likely.

While watching the show, I think about the power a writer has of controlling what the characters know, and what the audience knows. And manipulating what we think (as the audience) the Bachelorette, the main character, knows. And how her character traits (trust, and insecurity) informs how she deals with the information, and makes her decisions.

Who could have guessed? Least likely, indeed.

What least likely place are you garnering writing knowledge from? (Yup, ending on a preposition. Don't judge me.)

Do you write or read outside of your preferred genre?

What's got you hooked?

How sweet is it when the balloon rings Owl's doorbell?


  1. I read lots of genres, beyond the YA umbrella. Cormac McCarthy is my favorite author, followed by Sherman Alexie.

  2. Interesting. What you found fascinating in THE BACHELORETTE, I found her to be TSTL (too stupid to live). I can't write the words that came out of my mouth, because my daughter would make me wash my mouth out with soap!

    I read many, many genres, but I dont' read NF, literary, or anything to graphic (sex, violence, etc).

  3. Yeah. What Jonathon said. I read all different kinds of things.

    People can love literary fiction and still love YA, fantasy or sci-fi.The two are not mutually exclusive.

  4. Good writing is good writing, regardless of the genre. Reality shows are addictive because they've got all of those yummy elements that make for good storytelling, especially lots of drama and characters we can relate to. Interesting post.

  5. Excellent post and a healthy attitude about reading beyond one's "familiarity."

    I'm a thriller fan through and through, my WIP is a thriller, but I've found myself reading Nicholas Sparks as of late. Maybe it's my version of the "reality show" escape.

  6. I have a tendency to read mostly fantasy, dystopian, and paranormal. But like you, I'm trying to expand my horizons because I do enjoy other genres when I read them.

  7. My favorite genre is Dystopian. I don't usually jump for realistic fiction either, but Sharon Creech's realistic books are among my favorites (especially Walk Two Moons and The Wanderer).

  8. I've never been much of a fan of reality TV myself, but I've also done my best to avoid that kind of drama in my everyday life.
    As for my reading habits, I'm all over the place. I agree that a writer needs to be exposed to all kinds of writing, but my preference is fantasy and paranormal.

  9. This is such a good post, Heather. I really love how you tied all this together. I read all genres, except for gory horror. Gives me nightmares. I love edgy stuff but not gory. Sci-fi pulls me right in and realistic, too. It's all good!

    I like reality shows because of the various "characters" that are picked to be on the shows, and I like to watch their body language and facial expressions, listen to the difference in the language they use, see how they interact and plot against each other. Some seasons of The Bachelor are better than others. I've missed a lot of seasons, but this is one of the best. And I feel the same way you do about Ashley. She's just so vulnerable and the show has set her up to deal with some pretty terrible things. Why the h*** would they let those guys roast her like that? And what were some of them thinking to have said those things? Are they stupid or what?
    I hope this girl comes out of it okay, too. And who cares if she finds "the one," but that would be nice if it works out that way.

    The movie trailer is adorable. Looks like a wonderful Pooh movie!

  10. Ha, right now my muse is so all over the place that I feel like I'm ALWAYS writing outside my preferred genre. But I guess it's all part of the fun. Also, the new Pooh movie looks adorable!

  11. Ha! Rachel is also glued to the Bachelorette! And she has pulled a lot of friends along with her. I haven't tried yet but I almost joined them last night. I think it is interesting to think about - all that controlling of information - it is all about playing the audience so they are glued to what is next. I certainly want to write a book like that - no matter the preferred genre!

  12. J--I have yet to read Cormac McCarthy. There is a ton on my to read list. :)

    Margaret--Tell me how you really feel! LOL. I love how you never hold back. :)

    Cynthia Lee--I agree. I have met some writers who didn't agree. :) Writers who wrote and read literary, and looked down their nose at me as a MG/YA writer. Life's too short, you know?

    MG--I am a big fan of some types of reality TV--I love the adventure aspect of Survivor and The Amazing Race. I surprised myself by getting hooked on The Bachelorette!

    Bryce--Good point about the escapism aspect of reading and watching outside of my preferred genre. Thriller is fascinating to me. I love it's pace.

    Natalie--I love dystopia and fantasy--two of my faves. Some paranormal I love, and some I could take or leave. :)

    Rebecca--I'll have to check out her stuff! *penning them onto my to-read list*

    Cinette--Maybe it is the drama that normally turns me off. Although that wouldn't explain why I am so hooked into this drama, now!

    Lynn--I agree, gore is over the line for me as well. And I like your take on the nuances of reality TV, and what we can learn from it. And seriously--they definitely set Ashley up big time. I feel a little bad that she doesn't see what we see. Although I feel like someone might be giving her sign language from the wings...

    Anna--I think that is a great way of keeping writing fresh. Writing outside of the comfort zone.

    T--I keep thinking I'll just watch the first few minutes, and then after the action happens, I'll stop, but then they hook me with something else. Those producers are crafty. :)

  13. I read mostly Gen.Fiction and YA with some mysteries and thrillers every now and then. But really, I pretty much read anything as long as the plot line sounds interesting, regardless of the genre. I would try a western novel if it sounds good to me! So really, it's whatever.

  14. I read, fantasy, romance, ya, picture books, mid grade. I rarely read non fiction

  15. My girlfriend Cheryl and I analyze The Bach like we're generals assessing our enemies. Ashley is's like WTF already...duh.

    Hmmm...I read every genre and am always surprised by what can grab me. I just read a book with almost no plot and for the first 50 pages, I was like, what's happening/start the story. And then I just got stuck in the character's life (in which not much was happening) and loved it.

  16. I'm not a huge fantasy fan..I'm the girl who likes a thoughtful, well written realistic read. But, when I come across a novel that is so well done that I am swept away then I am in love. Recently, I read "Kat Incorrigible" - it is a 2011 MG debut and it was so fun it made me wonder what else in the magic realm I might be missing.

    To me, that is the sign of a great book.