Vulnerability in Fiction

This is the third day and last of the 3V’s in fiction.  The other two, if you missed them, were Voice and Vision. Now today, I will be talking about Vulnerability.

Vulnerable by definition is capable of being physically or emotionally wounded, open to attack or damage, assailable.  For a writer, becoming vulnerable is the ability to  open up about who we are and to allow our passions, fears, shames, successes, victories and hopes, exposed on a page.  We are laid to bear  for the world to see and criticized.

I’m asked, by my friends and family, why I read fiction. I often tell them its a form of  entertainment, a way to escape. An opportunity to transport myself into another time and place, much like they do while watching television. Instead of using a visual aide, I get to use my mind to imagine the imagery within a book and perhaps learn a little something about myself.

The only way an author can accomplish either of these, or truly connect with his/her audience is by his vulnerability.

What do I mean by that? An author has to develop a relationship with the reader, plain and simple. How to do this you ask? Think about the times you spent listening to a family member, a friend, or a co-worker tell a story. Remember how they looked while telling that story. Where their eyes focus, were they watching your reaction to what they were saying, if you believe them or not? If so, they were doing the same thing that old story tellers did since time began. Trying to gauge how the listener will response to what’s being said.  In short, they story is only as good as the audience response.

That’s what the reader needs from an author, to feel you are listening to their needs. So how do you know their needs, by knowing your own? Have you experienced a pain everyday because of a disease ? Have you found love for the first time in your life, only to lose them? Did you pray for a child only to have it  disable? Have you been raped, abused, neglected or just ignored your whole life? Where does it hurt, what are your passion? Is there something you care enough to write about, if so this is where you should write from, because Vulnerability is pure, and true, and honest.

Vulnerability in your work will never feel forced, cheap, or false, because it can’t. It’s the only part of  your writings that isn’t made up.  What is the vital vulnerability in your life, then use that to write the next best novel.

Great writings in fiction need the 3 V’s. Vision, Voice and Vulnerability to maneuver in  today’s crowded market place.

Copyright © 2013 Glynis Rankin

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