In Search of a Book Hangover


If a couple is making out in public, most people will generally ignore them. Other than the occasional taunt of “Get a room!”, this kind of PDA is overlooked and generally uninteresting. On the flip side, when a couple fights, onlookers either scatter from outright violence or pull out their cameras to video the argument. The difference between these scenarios is simple.
In the first situation, the couple kissing is of no interest to the audience, provided they keep to themselves. The audience feels no investment in the outcome. However, in the second scenario, the couple is suddenly interesting. The argument reveals details about the couple. He did what? She cheated with whom? They have a kid? He did not just say that! Oooo, she did not just say that! By the time the couple either dukes it out or kisses and makes up, the audience is invested in what happens next!
As Judge Judy and Jerry Springer can attest, it’s the drama between people that keeps viewers coming back. The same is true in reading.
Regardless of whether a book is an Action Adventure or an Erotic Romance, readers need more to the relationships than the physical or they lose interest and forget them. No book becomes a classic just by having great sex scenes. In fact, most of the stories we consider truly great classics ignore the actual sex act, other than by innuendo or as an aside. And the ones that are famous Erotic classics, such as “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” and “Lolita” use sex as a tool to progress other plot points, and not as the only point.
By the same token, a book full of action with no character development is equally unlikely to attract the reader’s attention. As a child, my father often enjoyed what he called “Shoot 'em up” movies. Good guys and bad guys would have massive gun fights, insane car chases, both of which utilized a lot of pyrotechnics. The “Fast and the Furious” films are prime examples.
However, in a book, where the explosions and gun fights are less exciting without the soundtrack and balls of fire, the lack of interesting characters means a lack of book sales...

Read the entire article in the June 2023 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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