Writing to Make Readers Think Deeply

I have almost finished the edits on Naked Alliances and I still can’t say that I am totally satisfied with it. It’s entertaining, but there seems to be something I enjoy about writing that it is missing.

I like to make readers think deeply, to consider, contemplating an understanding of some serious subjects.

Red Clay and Roses does that.

Naked Alliances has a few moments of prose that might have someone pondering, but it is generally quite shallow. It lacks the depth of the solid reads that I most enjoy.

I have heard readers should never compare their writing to others, but I feel it is necessary to learn and to be inspired.

Anne Rice is one of my most favorite authors. Most people think of her in association to her legendary vampires, but she has written so much more.

She has erotica written under Anne Rampling, The Sleeping Beauty Quartet is a series of four novels written by American author Anne Rice under the pseudonym of A. N. Roquelaure, her Seraphim Series, the Christ the Lord books, The Wolf Gift Chronicles, The Vampire Chronicles, and The Mayfair Legacy trilogy. I’ve probably left something out, but needless to say, she is a prolific author with decades of terrific writing under her belt.

She also writes full-length novels on some of her ancillary characters, like Pandora, Merrick, Armand and writes on other subjects that interest her like Egyptian lore, Servant of the Bones and others.

With all of her writing, regardless of genre, Anne has an intuitive writing style that makes us think.

I believe many readers like to be challenged in that way with fiction.

One of my most favorite scenes in one of Anne’s books comes, not from vampire legend, but a man named Ashler in her Mayfair Legacy.

He’s thousands of years old and extremely wealthy. She has him standing in his penthouse suite in Rockefeller Center surrounded by his doll collection. This eccentric modern man is a descendant of Picts and has lived in some extreme conditions in medieval times.

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Here, in his contemporary form, he is thinking about capitalism, corporate America, wealth, prosperity and the Roman Catholic Church’s near poverty by comparison as he gazes out at the snow falling to cover the rooftop of St. Patrick’s Cathedral below.

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There is something deeply metaphorical about that sort of writing. It takes us beyond the scene and inside ourselves.

She’s an inspiration.

It’s magical.

I want to write like that.

Do you have a particular author that you thoroughly enjoy reading? Why?

 What intrigues you about their style?

Do you have an author who is an inspiration to your writing?   

28 thoughts on “Writing to Make Readers Think Deeply

  1. Yes, but she may not be your cup of tea. I know you’re not a big fan of genre fiction. Karin Slaughter is my favorite author for many reasons: her storytelling abilities, the way she makes you not only see the scene but feel it, even the way she strings sentences together so they almost sing. I find her to be an inspiration. I’ve never read any of Anne Rice’s novels, but obviously I’ve heard about her many times. Now that I’ve read your post I’ll have to check one out. Thanks for the recommendation!

    • I highly recommend starting with The Witching Hour. I think her trilogy is some of the most fascinating writing I have ever read. She’s extremely popular for a reason and it has nothing much to do with blood lust.

      You’ve mentioned Karin Slaughter before. Obviously you respect her as a writer. I’ll have to check her out as well.

  2. I can’t say that I have a favorite author, Susan; there are so many that I love. I read a wide variety of genres, but one thing I always look for is a distinct voice. I like to be able to pick up a book and without looking at the cover, know who wrote it. I also like to do jigsaw puzzles without looking at the box. 🙂

    • That’s a challenge for sure, without looking at the box. Ha! I don’t think I could do that without a significant degree of frustration. I, too, like a strong writer’s voice and I think my voice is much different in RC&R as compared to NA. I expected the writing style to be different with another genre, but I may have lost the strength of my voice in changing the style.

  3. My mom is currently enthralled with Anne Rice. She’s devouring her books. I read some of hers long ago but haven’t in quite a while. Rice was at ThrillerFest the year I was there, but I never stood in her VERY long book-signing line. Now, knowing what a fan my mother is of hers, I wish I would have!

    Stephen King and JK Rowling inspire me for their storytelling skills. They can suck you right in within the first page. Anita Shreve inspires me for her beautiful prose. And Chris Bohjalian inspires me with his knack for putting twists into literary fiction. And oh, there are so many more…

    • That’s what I really like to hear. Multiple influences make for fascinating reading. I felt that in your book. It was not a typical medical thriller, but so much more. Keep writing that sort of writing and you will go far, I’m sure.

      Sarah M. Cradit’s work has been referred to as early Rice by rice’s assistant, Beckett. She had the honor and privilege of serving on a panel in Ann’es company last fall. She was absolutely thrilled. I follow Rice on FB and she engages her fans with so very much meaningful conversation and let’s you in deeply to her world of thoughts. It is a pleasure to know her. If your mom doesn’t follow her on FB really she should. Last evening we were talking about after death experiences and some of my nursing experiences were shared. She expressed that she was moved by those in the caring professions and their special talents/abilities and addressed me directly. I so admire her willingness to engage her fans.

  4. Sue Monk Kidd comes to mind. I’ve reviewed her latest book this week on my blog.

    I also like Phyllis Tickle, whose names belies her depth, and Lee Martin whose memoir Such a Life parallels mine regarding abuse.

    • Those real life stories can touch us far more deeply than most fiction, that’s for certain. You know it is at the very least someone’s perception of what actually occurred. That can touch places emotionally that fiction simply can’t get to.

  5. I seem to have different favorites depending on what I’m up to. On a rainy day during summer vacation, I’ll pick up one of the Anne of Green Gables series (Lucy Maud Montgomery), or maybe one of the Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane books (Dorothy L Sayers). I like the voice and world-building of Molly Harper or the Ilona Andrews team. But always and mostly I like new-to-me writers—I like to see how they put a book together and make me care.

    And you know what? I’m going to call your bluff. Because I have a feeling that I’m just going to love Naked Alliances!

    • You’re too kind. I like reading new authors also for the very same reason and I think that’s why I review lots of indies. I can read established authors and don’t think about writing reviews, but how new authors develop books enthralls me. I always try to look for the positives. Things I would like to emulate in developing my own.

  6. You know Susan sometimes a book is just a book. I can’t imagine you force feeding depth into a fun story like Naked Alliances (I know that’s not what you are saying). Your next ought to be one of those well-researched literary tomes where you craft every sentence to mean more than it looks like it means.

  7. Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and And the Mountains Echoed), Wally Lamb (This Much I Know is True), Ron Currie Jr. (Everything Matters), Garth Stein (The Art of Racing in the Rain) are what jumps out at me. But I tend to lose interest in authors. It’s more individual books that are compelling to me and are the type of thing that inspire me as a writer.

    • I agree about individual books. That’s part of the reason I’m not so gung-ho about my series development. Not sure that’s how I want to be remembered as a writer. I would like to write at least one best seller. And it’s not about making money for me. It’s about pleasing a large audience. Writing something I like to read and pleasing myself, but also being valued as an author.

  8. A doll collection! An interesting man!! Hearing about all these books I haven’t read makes me wonder if I can ever go back to writing fiction when there is so much I haven’t read!

  9. I like to read many different authors and genres, so I don’t know that I have a favorite. Most recently, I was really impressed by Jo Baker’s “Longbourn,” and how she managed to convey historical detail in a word or phrase. I’ve almost finished Jane Smiley’s “Some Luck,” which is simply and beautifully written.

    I suspect you’re tougher on yourself than others would be. 🙂

    • That’s how my book is, so much historical detail, but it was all woven into the story. I would love to read “Longbourn”. Gosh! There is sooo much here that I would love to read.

  10. The Mayfair Witches, especially the first book, is one of my favorite works of fiction. I felt the same about the first book of Rice’s vampire series. She nicely weaves philosophical undertones into her fiction. I’m not as crazy about the sequels to both series, but I did love the first books of each.

    My favorite author remains John Steinbeck. He’s a very philosophical writer. I also like Pat Conroy – although sometimes Conroy’s work gets a little too soap opera-ish for me in his later books.

    Gosh, there are so many authors I love, but the ones I love best always manage to find the ‘humanity’ in their stories. The human heart always shines through, whether the work is horror, humor, tragedy, procedural. There’s an underlying truth that comes through. Rice does this well, especially in the first Mayfair Witches book.

    What a great post, Susan!

    • I agree about the Witching Hour. That book started me reading again as an adult after being away for a while. I think writing about the human condition is what separates the good from the great. There have been so many great books mentioned in comments that I haven’t read. I better get busy 🙂

  11. I like George Eliot for making me think, but more for creating such great characters that I really don’t care where they go or what they do–I just want to be with them. I feel the same about Wallace Stegner’s characters. I also enjoy when a book hits me in my melancholy heart. I like bittersweet things which is probably why I love The Little House on the Prairie series–there’s an element of sadness to the story knowing that Laura Ingalls Wilder is looking back over her long life and that most of the people she’s remembering are dead.

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