The H is Silent
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I guess the ol' silent H routine isn't going to fly for this post :-).
Actually H should be easy for me, it's what I look for when I read fiction.
Regardless of whether the novel is about cats, aliens or trees, for me it has to be about humanity, how we deal with things and what we are capable of.
Humanity can be shown many ways and I have three favourites:
Aussies are generally known for their sense of humour which can be a bit off-beat and probably stems from our strong Irish connection. We try to laugh off everything. Especially people who think they've got the upper hand, no one is above a ridicule. Even Chris Vogler refers to our 'tall poppy syndrome' in his book Using Myth to Power Your Story, Aussies don't like seeing someone get 'too big for their boots'.
Of course, not everyone is funny. But sometimes that character can be hilarious because they're not funny. In Good Morning Vietnam, Robin Williams' humour is contrasted with a binary character that thinks he's funny, but has absolutely no sense of humour. I laugh at that character a lot.
And there is a boundary (well for me anyway), somethings are beyond being funny. I really have to prepare myself to read a book that I know will show humanity's unkindness :-(.
Even if I'm reading a book for children, I want to see a character with heart. Someone that will stand against the odds, even if failing is inevitable. I don't want it to be easy for them, that's what makes their actions meaningful - because it hurts to try. I heart the people. I want to find the best in them and sometimes that means showing the worst too, so we can see the journey for our character's true potential.
I don't have to have a happy ending to like a story, but there does have to be hope at the end for change. If things simply return to normal I feel like I've made no progress (hey, I was on the journey with the main character while reading, so I get to share in the credit for the outcome don't I?). Even in post-apocolyptic tales, I need to see humanity's hope at the end.
One of my favourite films for showing the potential in every person is Changing Lanes with Ben Afflick and Samuel L Jackson. This film starts with an accident between two seemingly very different people, but through the film we see the darkest things they are capable of and then we see the lengths they are prepared to go to when they try to right their wrongs.
I try to keep humour, heart, hope and humanity in mind when I write, but it can also be a topic to address in the editing process.
So, I HEART Humans, what do you HEART to read in fiction?