Monday, December 01, 2008

Back on the Blog Chain: Wish Fulfillment

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.


Anonymous said...

WOW, Sandra! I'm up next and I'm nervous as all get out. Can I fulfill your wishes for the blog chain topic? I don't know. We'll have to see tomorrow.

You have given me much to think about, and I'm going to have to check out some of those book titles you mentioned.

And by the way, THE PRINCESS BRIDE is one of my all time favorites!

I like to get lost in my stories, so I guess that's part of my wish fulfillment.

Great post!


Archetype said...

Wow, deep topic! I am going to have to think about this one... Thanks for a great first post. That helps!

ElanaJ said...

Holy hating you right now. I only have two day to stew on this, and your post was so perfect, I have nothing left to say! Great topic though, along with a fantabulous post. :)

TerriRainer said...

See now, when I read the actual topic for this chain, it was after watching the video, and letting my oh-so-scary imagination take me to nasty places with Gerard Butler. I think I got ahead of myself...

I thought surely MY own wish fulfillment with my writing, not what I wanted to give my readers-selfish selfish me!

Glad I got clarification before I posted (still love the question BTW)!

:) Terri

Sandra said...

I don't think the two are necessarily different, Terri. Some wishes are widespread, if not universal. If a writer and a reader share the same dream, then the two are much more likely to connect.

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Wow this is a really interesting topic and something I've never really thought much about before. I can't wait to read everyone's responses.

Mary Lindsey said...

Great topic. Time Traveler's Wife is amazing. And I'm with ya: Hogwarts minus Snape and Voldemort-my dream school.

H. L. Dyer said...


I suspect this may overlap a bit with the "why I write" topic. I'm very interested to see where everyone goes with this. ;)

celticqueen said...

Ack! I thought I had posted on everyone's entry. Sorry! I loved this topic :) It's interesting to think about the role wish fulfillment plays in both my reading and writing choices. Not something I had really thought of before, so thanks for picking an awesome topic!

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