So... occasionally I read a romance novel. I say "occasionally" not because I think it's shameful to read romance novels--after all, my mom reads little else--but because I don't want to lose my street cred as the writer who would rather (literally) blow up her character than have a kissing scene.
But every once in awhile, I find myself not wanting death and destruction with a healthy handful of zombies or killer unicorns or dragons thrown in. Every once in awhile I'd like a bodice-ripper. (Or, as the very old lady at my church put it: "thigh warmers". It took a full minute for me to figure out what she meant by that term, and I nearly choked at the pot luck when it finally hit me.)
Anyway, last night I started NINE RULES TO BREAK WHEN ROMANCING A RAKE--so far a clever title by the author of the YA novel THE SEASON, Sarah MacLean.
One scene stood out to me. In in, Callie has asked for a kiss from Ralston, a playboy rake. They brush lips, barely, and Callie says she's satisfied with such a kiss.
His lips curved at her ear as he spoke... "Kisses should not leave you satisfied." [Insert Very Hot and Steamy Kiss Here, a Kiss so Passionate it Leaves Callie Breathless. Ralston then says:] "They should leave you wanting."
Okay, first? HOT. Second: isn't that what a good novel should do? Maybe it's because I've got the ending of Hitchcock's THE BIRDS on the brain (my topic at the League today) or maybe it's because I'm already starting to think about the end of my own trilogy, but I think there's a very important lesson in this scene.
A good story leaves you satisfied. It makes you close the book with a happy sigh. All is well, the heroes have won (or lost nobly) and it is over and you're happy.
But...a great story leaves you wanting more.
A great story makes you want to write fan fic. It makes you want to live in Hogwarts, it makes you go looking in wardrobes for Narnia, it makes you jump on your broom while sweeping and pretend to fly, it makes you flick your pencil like a wand, it makes you want more. A great story will bring you to the bookstore at midnight for the sequel. A great story will make you dream of it at night after you close the book and leave it on the nightstand.
A great story should leave you wanting.