Does Your Book Have Charisma?

Webster’s Dictionary says the word ‘charisma‘ comes from Greek meaning of “a divine talent or a gift.”  So if charisma is a gift from God, it begs the question:  Are you born with charisma or can it be developed?

Let me first give you a little background on my inspiration for today’s blog.  My local Chamber of Commerce  had a luncheon today at the Hilton Hotel.   The speaker was Kordell Norton aka “The Revenue Mechanic.”   Kordell is a motivational speaker, business growth and marketing expert and author of 5 books.  The topic of Kordell’s discussion was “charisma” being the “secret sauce” behind the worlds most successful organizations.  Kordell brought some some very interesting points about how businesses use charisma to increase sales and profit margins, motivate employees and build a world-wide brand.  Of course, my mind immediately synced what Kordell’s ideas with my book Extra Innings:  The Diamond Thieves.  I asked myself: does my book and it’s characters have charisma?  I feel confident in answering “YES” to this question.  Although the story, set in the Deep South, is based on a period in our nation’s history (The Cold War), the characters are fictional.  I believe they possess a unique charisma that will hopefully capture the hearts of young adult, as well as adult, readers.

So I took a mental inventory of which writers inspired me the most?  Two authors came immediately to mind: Mark Twain and Nicholas Sparks.  I then asked myself, did the books of these authors have charisma?  ABSOLUTELY YES!   Two of my favorite books of all time are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  What I love about these stories is the dichotomy of Tom versus Huck.  Tom, the extreme extrovert, is outgoing and thrives off the energy of other people.  Tom Sawyer was the epitome of social charisma.  Socializing is where Tom gets his energy versus Huck, the intense introvert, is shy and reclusive.  I always thought, how selfish of Tom to suck the energy out of Huck who strives to be on his own and out of the public eye.  This concept of conflicting personalities is so interesting to me that it influenced the dichotomy between my main characters Jimmy and Billy McGee.  These are identical twins who couldn’t be more different.  These differences are evident in Book 1 but the story really digs deeper into theses different personalities as the twin’s relationship struggles more and more in Book 2 (Race of the Gemini).  I believe both Jimmy and Billy act in selfish ways each one practically demanding the other twin to be more like him.

Mark Twain has a very distinctively sophisticated style of writing.  Mark Twain was a realist, although the popular style of the time was more romanticism.  Stylistically, I think my writing is more influenced by Nicholas Sparks.

Overall, Nicholas Sparks does not have a distinct writing style.  His style of writing is more theme-based.  However, he does have a natural gift for narration.  It’s as if, the main character or Mr. Sparks is sitting right there at your beside telling the tale.   For me, Nicholas Sparks is a charismatic writer.

As I wrote, revised, proof-read and tidied up the Extra Innings trilogy, I found Spark’s style of writing to be inspirationally motivating.  A few my favorite Sparks books are “The Lucky One,” “Dear John” and “The Notebook.”   There is no doubt that I am a slow reader.  However, when it comes to most Nicholas Sparks books, I’m able to fly through them.  He has a natural charisma for storytelling.  It’s eloquent.  I hope my readers are experiencing a similar charisma with Extra Innings:  The Diamond Thieves.

I shop for books at Barnes & Noble and when choosing my next book to read, I usually read the first two paragraphs.  First off, they have to flow and secondly there has to be something interesting that makes me want to continue reading.  Frankly, this topic could be a  whole other blog (and most likely it will be hint hint).  For example, Chapter 1 – Paragraph 1 & 2 of “The Notebook” are brilliantly written.   They almost sounds poetic:

WHO AM I? And how, I wonder, will this story end?

The sun has come up and I am sitting by a window that is foggy with the breath of a life gone by. I’m a sight this morning: two shirts, heavy pants, a scarf wrapped twice around my neck and tucked into a thick sweater knitted by my daughter thirty birthdays ago. The thermostat in my room is set as high as it will go, and a smaller space heater sits directly behind me. II clicks and groans and spews hot air like a fairy-tale dragon, and still my body shivers with a cold that will never go away, a cold that has been eighty years in the making. Eighty years. I wonder if this is how it is for everyone my age.  Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook)
This simply flows. It is not at all choppy or awkward. It’s charisma is how it captures readers with its natural flow into a cadence and before you realize it you’re onto page 2, 3 and so on as the plot grabs you by the gut. Sparks possesses a unique gift granting his stories worldwide success.
Chapter 1 – Paragraph 1 & 2 of The Diamond Thieves, as my editor Mary Kay Landon knows, underwent major overhauling revisions until I felt the same way as when I read the beginning of a good Nicholas Sparks or John Grisham novel (John Grisham is my 3rd favorite author).  I am so proud of what has finally come to be the beginning of the Extra Innings trilogy.  Take a peek:

Today was their thirteenth birthday.

It was Saturday, June 21, 1947 and summer was off to a great start. Identical twins Jimmy and Billy McGee were upstairs in their spacious, attic bedroom of their parents’ three-story home in Eugene, Mississippi. Both boys would have preferred to be outdoors playing baseball with their friends but the McGee family house rule was that birthdays were to be spent at home with the family. This year, however, Billy designed a plan that would allow them to see their friends. In order for it to work he and Jimmy needed to be upstairs in their bedroom. They would have to make enough noise to wake their toddler brother, whose bedroom was downstairs, directly across the hall from the attic door. If this happened, their mother would want them as far away from the house as possible.  B.W. Gibson (The Diamond Thieves)

Today’s Chamber of Commerce speaker, Kordell brought his charisma talk in for a landing with the following question:  “Are you going to be successful or are you going to be significant?”  I believe Twain and Sparks, although quite successful, are more importantly significant to the history of literary.  Their style of writing and creative storytelling exceeds readers’ expectations.  I can only hope to achieve this sort of significance with my works.

Thank you Kordell for your inspiring words of wisdom!

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