Well, as promised, here I am to start the latest Blog Chain! Here's the teaser video I used to give the other Blog Chain members a hint to the latest topic:
That's right; this blog chain topic is about wishes, or wish fulfillment. What is the role of wish fulfillment in fiction? What personal wishes do you want your stories to fulfill? Are they the same ones you want to read about? How do our fictitious wishes affect our everyday dreams?
(Note to the Blog Chain members: feel free to answer to answer just one of these questions or as many "as you wish." My intent here is to make this topic broad enough for everyone to address, not to stress anyone out. The holiday season can be stressful enough as it is!)
First, a quick definition. When I say "wish fulfillment," I'm talking about the secret wishes that drive us to read one type of book over another. For instance, people may want to have some supernatural power, such as the ability to do magic or live forever. It could also be something more down-to-earth, such as the chance to achieve justice by identifying criminals or fighting evil, to travel to exotic locations, or to find true love (or just hot sex).
Some of my wishes come out in my fiction. For instance, I tend to be a solitary person, but I desire close friendships with people who understand me. This is expressed in my earlier novels. My Season Lord series is about a quartet of young women magicians who must work together to save their land. Their relationships with each other drive the plot just as much as external events do. In Across Two Universes, my hero, Paul Harrison, is very close to three other teenagers (his best friend, his girlfriend, and his sister) who grew up with him on the spaceship Sagan. They have shared experiences no one living on Earth could understand, so they stand by each other no matter what. My current novel is about sisters, not friends, but although they are opposite in many ways, they are still close, even though one of them is several years older than the other.
I think the ability to fulfill a reader's desires is the key to making readers become ardent fans of an author and her world. When I first really got into science fiction and fantasy, one of my favorite authors was Mercedes Lackey. I think she does a good job of understanding what teenagers want and giving it to them. (Of course, now that I'm much closer to middle age than I am to adolescence, her books don't speak to me the way they once did.) Worldbuilding is also important. Although we authors are encouraged to make life as hard as possible for our characters, the worlds I most enjoy are the ones that are comfortable. For instance, who wouldn't want to live in a Hawkbrothers' Vale, with the beauty of nature carefully tended to, weather control (I'd be very happy to do without snow!), hot springs for soaking, and intelligent lizard-like creatures who anticipate your needs? Hogwarts also has a great deal of charm, despite Snape and Voldemort.
Although successful books give us the wishes we desire, are these wishes the ones that will make us happy? For example, many of the urban fantasies I read these days feature a strong heroine who has several hot men lusting after her. And although I haven't read the Twilight series, I hear Edward is supposed to be the perfect boyfriend. But do perfect boyfriends and sex partners make good husbands? Maybe, or maybe not. Personally, I've been in a relationship with the same person for so long that I am more interested in reading about long-term relationships, not short-term ones. In that respect, I found The Time-Traveler's Wife more fulfilling than some of the other books I've mentioned.
I could go on, but that's enough for one post. I'm more interested in hearing what Abi and our other Blog Chain members have to say. I'll be back in a couple of weeks to wrap up this chain.