When I was a little kid in elementary school, I was in one of those accelerated programs for reading. And…teachers said I wasn’t good at reading comprehension.
Turns out, I am actually quite good at analyzing works of writing. But they gave us a dreaded list of terminology we had to memorize, and worksheets to be filled…and they were boring. Things like mood, scene, antagonist, denouement, and…author’s purpose.
I *dreaded* that.
Now, roughly five years later, I am talking about author’s purpose. Maybe I’ll wait a few years and be chugging black coffee and running on 3 hours of sleep.
But sarcasm aside, today I kinda want to talk about author’s intent and purpose, with some food comparisons. (no, really. There’s actually is food involved.)
So today I came across a lovely video on YouTube with author Kiera Cass…talking a little about author’s doubt and how…how her book will make a difference and why it stands out.
So basically she is in the midst of editing her book The Selection. She says (if I may heavily paraphrase), “There are some books that are chock-full of information. Like those dishes that are healthy and have a little bit of every food group in it.”
“Come to think of it, my book doesn’t really have *nutritional value*.”
She goes on to say, “And there are some authors with ideas so grandiose and complex–you know they’re shooting for the New York Times Bestseller List. They’re like those restaurants with those fancy square plats and the swoop of sauce and that fancy green sprig you’re not really sure you’re supposed to eat or not.”
“My book really isn’t like that, either. My book isn’t fancypants.”
“You know what my book is like? Mac and cheese. Mac and cheese and potatoes and apple pie. My book is comfort food. No matter what, you always return to it.”
Man, oh man. Kiera Cass, you are a smart cookie.
I have a brilliant author friend who once was a concert pianist, and she once told me about how to play a piano piece. “You have to think about the intent,” she said, “Even past the dynamics and melodies and crescendos….it has to build up to a meaning, an intent.”
So, to author’s purpose. And to me thinking about what my book was about.
I will come up front and tell you that TeaNovel is different. Very, very different. It’s not a grand, magical, glittering fantasy. It is not a cute, swoony romance. it is not a terrifying, haunting dystopia, complete with horrifying scientific measures of law enforcement and a love interest that stepped out of a model shoot.
Clearly, my novel intent isn’t an electric, fast-paced plot. It isn’t a formulaic novel that hits all the YA checkboxes. No. My novel’s story–I would describe as strange, but reminiscent of home. A Marriott inn in a foreign country. Exotic, but hopefully comfortable enough.
And for my novel’s prose–I want you, the reader, to feel.
I want to evoke emotions. I add some literary flair, but weave it in the lines so it is nearly inconspicuous among the concise prose, but just enough to leave an aftertaste on your tongue. I want you to know what sadness feels like without melodrama. It’s not operatic tears and moans and screams, but it’s that quiet, bitter coldness that reaches your bones before you realize it.
That is my author’s intent.
My novel is a hanging mess of balancing acts, but I hope someday the cards will fall right, and it will turn out well and hit the sweet spot I have imagined for it all along.