Wednesday, November 4, 2009

When They Said “Sit Down” I Stood Up

The Boss Week continues here at the blog.

The Springsteen concert on Monday night was AWESOME. So much energy, so many great songs. I'm hard pressed to think of any rocker who can top Bruce's showmanship, specifically the way he connects with the crowd. From the very first guitar note, he's got 20,000 fans in his hip pocket.

Bruce knows exactly what they want, and he doesn't just meet their expectations, he exceeds them.

That's one reason he can charge so much for a ticket and have fans think they're the ones getting a steal. Because--speaking for myself--I sure did. I had a great time and I'd do it again in a New Jersey minute.

greetings If you continually please your fans, they'll remain your fans forever. It's no accident the crowd overflowed with middle-aged people (and beyond), many of whom have been Springsteen fans since they first heard Greetings From Asbury Park. Bruce has been exceeding expectations for over thirty years.

As writers, we'd do well to follow his example. Write the book you want, but keep your readers in mind. Set them up for a Good Read. Start with a protagonist they can cheer for and a supporting cast of charismatic, dynamic characters. Compose a great plot with unexpected twists and turns. Deliver pitch-perfect pacing and symphonic settings. Let the rhythms build and the story threads harmonize. Bring down the house with a dynamite, mind-blowing ending.

Don't skimp. Give your readers your best effort in every chapter, on every page.

Exceed expectations. Deliver a great performance. After all, you're shooting to develop fans for the long haul.



Unknown said...

Alan I'm so glad (but not a bit surprised) that you so totally enjoyed the concert! And I love your analogy! THAT'S the kind of book that most definitely makes for a Good Read!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

You can always tell when a performer isn't putting their all into their performance...same with a writer. Great point here! I'm glad you had fun at the concert--sounds like it rocked.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Anonymous said...

Alan - I'm so glad you enjoyed the concert. I would've given a lot to be there myself. You really do make a well-taken point that writers do best when they put all their effort into what they write - on every page. Just like music fans, bibliophiles can tell very quickly when the author is "phoning it in," and they stop reading. We writers know it, too, when something we've written isn't our best. That's when I, anyway, delete and start over. It's worth the extra time to give the reader the best one can.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Excellent advice, Alan. And great tie-in to the concert. Elizabeth is right about fans/readers knowing when a performance (or book) is phoned in. Readers need to smell our sweat, taste our blood, and feel our passion. If not, why bother?

Elspeth Futcher said...

It sounds like a terrific concert; lucky you! You've made a very good point, if, as writers, we want readers to stay around we can't ever take them for granted. Readers are earned.


JournoMich said...

And on a much smaller level, blogging is the same way. People read your blog because you have something interesting to say. I have been lazy and busy (yes, the two CAN go together!) the last couple of days, and have ha
d significantly fewer hits because of it. Time to redouble the efforts! Springsteen has staying power. May we all learn from that and be that lucky!


Alan Orloff said...

Crystal - Of course, what consitutes a Good Read varies from person to person, but I think there's generally a pretty good overlap. I know every single person I saw at the concert was having a Good Time.

Elizabeth - Yes, it's so obvious sometimes when a performer is dogging it, you wonder: don't they realize how it looks?

Margot - It's true. There's some sixth sense we have that tells us when we're the ones slacking off. And you're right--we owe it to our readers to keep at it until we've got it right.

Sue Ann - Good insight. Why bother indeed? When Bruce body-surfed through the crowd, there were plenty of people who smelled his sweat. And I'm sure every single person loved it.

Elspeth - Nice point. Readers ARE earned, one by one. Can't forget that somebody is reading every word you wrote, and paying for the privilege, if not with money, with time.

Michele - Staying power is elusive. I'd love to still be writing books thirty years from now. I wonder if people will still be blogging thirty years from now?

Galen Kindley--Author said...

You don’t by chance play an instrument, do you Alan? Seems like you might. As to your point, yes, I think it’s well taken. AND, I intend to apply it to all three of my fans: My wife, my daughter, and me. I should meet with great success, eh?
Well, after further review….
Best Regards, Galen

Imagineering Fiction Blog

Helen Ginger said...

Years ago I saw Springsteen. He sure knows how to please the crowd - and you're right, that kind of showmanship can be directly related to writing. Great post.

Straight From Hel

Alan Orloff said...

Galen - My musical talent is limited to the stereo. And you have at least 4 fans :)

Helen - Yes, he does. I've still got his song lyrics running thru my head. Thanks for dropping by!