In English, the term means standpoint, stand, position, resolve. In this blog entry, I take the word to mean how we authors should take care that our work lives up to the style attack we set as our target when we write our manuscripts. These style attacks that, together with the entire plot, eventually gets compacted down to but a few words and stylized to form the title.
Now, let me ask you, when you go to the grocery and you see a bag of chips that says cheesiest, you, as a consumer would expect a cheese flavor enough to set your kidneys on alert due to an overload of sodium, right? While there are morsels in the bag of munchies that may not be coated with enough cheese powder, the rest should more than make up for the ‘nakedness’ of the other chips so you’d not feel short-changed. If, sadly, you find out that the cheesiest tag only goes so far as to describe the foodie being as yellow as cheese, you end up writing off that product, never to be bought again the next time you make your purchases.
Same goes with writing a novel. The title labels your story so you better give your reader what your title says the novel is. Or at least make the story worth overlooking the title misfit. What is it they say? Under-promise, over-deliver.
What do I mean? We may be authors but we are also readers. There are plots and styles that catch our attention when we read them and sometimes, we think we could come up with the same. After all, that is one sure way to make good our craft – write something we ourselves would love to read. And so the next time we hit our laptops and netbooks, we come up with a story that hopefully emulates the excitement and emotion evoked in us by what we read from others.
We have to admit, though, that not all of us are gifted with effectively executing certain genres. What we are excited to read and what we can write are not always one and the same.
We read about these young professionals and we are overcome with so much kilig and wonder at the characters’ lifestyles and language that we would like to try to write something as kilig.
However, we forget some important things and we become careless. Things like, we’re but college students and thinking as an adult does not come second nature with us. Or how about, we’re not from a specific place and so we describe such based on what we may have read, seen on TV or the movies or heard from stories from friends and family who have been there and therefore we are unable to give justice to the locale.
Worst, probably is when we take on the role, through our hero/heroine, of an individual from a highly specialized profession – a doctor, lawyer, policeman, military spec ops – and we assume they could act and speak as we do, as we are.
Things are not so simple, you know.
It is this shortfall, I believe, that prompts really bad reviews of our work. The truth that not all readers/reviewers will be satisfied with our work remain. But we need to acknowledge how we, as storytellers, many times fail to inject the expected high for the genre we have chosen.
As a teenage author, our level of kilig is definitely not the same as that of our characters who are as old as some of our readers – years older than our own. Characters who are in their twenties can’t be expected to act and react as we do. Unless that’s part of their characterization. Because adult characters who act like childish imbeciles are irritating rather than endearing. Older writers have it easy, they at least have gone through this phase in their lives. Their challenge, then, is to update themselves with what’s in and what’s hip in the current scene.
If we say, from the titles of our books or from the theme of our book series, that we are into action-military romance, then we need to make good that declaration. Don’t bring up conspiracies and vendettas and not go into the required squirming-from-the-edge-of-your-seat action sequences that should go into the plot. It’s not fair to the reader, it’s not fair to your plot if you don’t follow-through.
I remember, Elise Estrella and I discussed how difficult it was to write military romance. The author needs to put on several hats – that of the hero and his team – how they would orchestrate a rescue mission; the heroine – why is she the target of the terrorist plot, or if not, how does she fit in the hero’s life other than being his heroine; the terrorist (or any antagonist) – how he/she/they are going to make life miserable for the protagonists. Whew…
Authors, please do be careful. I believe we have a responsibility toward our readers to give them something that is their money’s worth. This is not to say we should be on a quest to find the perfect combination of themes so they can all be happy because that will never be possible. There would always be readers who would not even go so far as to merely appreciate our offering. This discontent, however, should only be due to the fact that these readers appreciate a certain style so much more than yours. Let them say they don’t like your style but they do see your talent in writing. Panindigan mo lang ang kwento mo. Then it’s all good.
In closing, I want to share a line from a blog. I like this:
I hope writers refrain from writing when they have a hesitant heart. The readers could feel it. ~ The Orange Mind