My sister and her husband have this habit of “grading” their food, new recipes especially, and the other night at dinner, my brother-in-law couldn’t believe my sister gave only an 8 out of 10 to the meal (marinated and grilled Chinese chicken with rice and fried vegetables). One thing led to another and I asked her what her most memorable meal was. For a moment, she paused and couldn’t think of anything, so I said, “If you can’t even think of one, then it can’t have been that memorable.” She came up with one two minutes later. My most memorable meal happened in France, about three years ago, on a day trip to Amiens with some friends. We stumbled upon a little restaurant that served nothing but baked potatoes. Normally, I’m not a fan of baked potatoes, but the potato I had that day is one I still dream about. That leads me to my question, what makes something memorable? What is going to make your writing memorable?
What makes something a most memorable meal is the fact that you still remember it, you still talk about it, you still dream about it. The same thing goes for great writing. Think of your favorite books. They’ve stayed with you because you remember them and talk about them. In order to make a great book memorable, there are some things you have to do.
- Create great characters: characters are what really drive your book most of the time. It’s what they choose to do and how they choose to do it that drive things forward. Give them well-defined personalities. Make them argumentative or weird. Give them something to do, something to obsess over, something to make them better people.
- Create a great plot: plot is something I struggle with monumentally. Some people would say there are only so many plots to choose from, but every book is a divergent of some kind from those plots. Not all plots are straightforward, easily defined things, but ensuring that yours is great will make your book memorable.
- Make a statement: I’m not saying every book needs to be a huge political statement about gender and society and whatever. But every book needs to say something about something. Whether it’s about people growing up or someone overcoming the odds, your novel will say something about you and the people who read it.
Being memorable is not easy and there are thousands of books out there that prove it can’t be done. Granted, a lot of the books that do “make it” are given lots of help, but sometimes the good ones can make it on their own, so it’s important to keep trying and never give up because someday, your novel may be someone’s most memorable moment.