I was helping my grandson yesterday organize his notes for a school report on the Battle of Gettysburg. He had gathered lots of facts and was trying to figure out how to put them together. I offered him a series of questions and suggested he put the questions in an order that worked for him then replace each question with an answer from his notes.
He was expecting the usual what, where, when, etc., but he was caught by the question, “Why should we care?” To him, the answer was simple…because it was a school paper and he wanted a good grade.
Yes, but why do we care about this battle?
Well, it’s a really famous battle. Everyone knows about it.
In fiction, we rarely have the luxury of a famous topic that everyone already knows is important. In an established series there may be vested interest in the main characters, but more often readers start a story not knowing why they should care…which translates into “why should I keep reading?”
Mysteries have at least two possibilities – the puzzle and characters. For some mystery lovers, the puzzle itself may be enough. Like playing a good game of Clue, puzzle lovers read mysteries for the sheer joy of staying in step with or even beating the story’s sleuth to the correct solution. The characters are merely a vehicle for delivering the clues.
For others, and I fall into this group, it’s all about the characters. Once I become caught up in a character, I'm hooked. I have to keep reading, even if the story/puzzle is a little weak or slow. I just have to find out what happens to that character (or even better, those characters).
This takes us back to my grandson’s paper. After mulling over the questions I’d given him, he placed “Why should we care?” at the top – right after his introduction.
I think he gets it.
I'm currently enjoying: The Fate of Katherine Carr
Groaner of the Day: The Frugal Gourmet recently visited to Europe. He had a delightful time sampling the cusine in Italy, France and Germany , but he made the mistake of stopping off in London on the way home. Needless to say, he found English food bland and overcooked. However, one day he had a great meal of fish & chips at a London pub. He asked the manager of the pub if he could have the recipe for the fish and chips. The manager confessed that he bought his fish and chips from a nearby monestary, and thus the Frugal Gourmet would have to get the recipe from one of the Brothers. The Frugal Gourmet quickly ran down the street to the monestary and knocked on the door. When one of the Brothers came to the door, the Frugal Gourmet asked him if he were the "Fish Friar."
The brother repiled, "No, I'm the Chip Monk."