Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W is for Why

And for We Are Scientists.

You know how in mystery novels the detective always says 'never mind the motive, find the evidence and you'll find the motive.' That's never true, really, because the 'why' is always the most important question (to me) in a good mystery. The 'who' and 'how' are cool, but the why is where the psychology comes in, where you try and usually fail somewhat, to understand the reasons why.

'Why' in a story is where you get inserted. Every important action the MC takes is an opportunity for the reader to ask themselves "Why did she do that? Would I do that?" I think that's what makes a story compelling, putting yourself in the action through the why.

So, in BookEnd, I'm trying not to answer, or not to fully answer, the why. I don't mean that I'm not leaving clues, I am, plenty. But I don't want the reader to know why Fin does what he does because if she does, she might not find where she belongs in the book. I hate when the 'why' of a character's action is too readily answered. I like to figure it out for myself - even if it's not what the author intended. That's why reading is a participatory past-time, right? We don't passively 'consume' the narrative, we contribute to it.

Does that make sense?


  1. Thank you for the follow! What a great "W" post. I agree; the "why" of things is extremely important. Character motivation is such an interesting thing, and can make or break your whole novel. :-)

  2. That's why emotions play a strong role in reading for me. If I'm emoting, I'm definitely participating, as the author has succeeded in making me a participant. Thanks for sharing, and it's a pleasure to meet you via the A-Z Challenge!


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