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Aftertaste

May 6, 2010

That picture hardly relates to this post, but when you search “toothbrush”, expecting to see, well, plain old toothbrushes, and you get this? You have to share it.

Anyway, aftertastes.

They can be revolting and the partnering breath even more so. They can remind you of the absolutely fabulous food you just ate and make you yearn for more. They can be refreshing and repugnant.

What do you want the aftertaste of your book to be? Clearly, you don’t want it to be repugnant. You want your book’s aftertaste to remind the reader of your book and how pleasant it was. Maybe they’ll even read it again or tell someone to try it.

In my review of Sorta Like a Rock Star*, I said:

…[it is] quite evident that this book is the type that leaves people with a delectable taste on their tongue. As goofy as it sounds: Yes, this book has a good aftertaste.” **

As odd as it sounds, this aftertaste thing is really important. It’s essential to not only avoid leaving a bad aftertaste, but to ensure that you leave one at all. You want a reader to be reminded of your book at random moments. You want a line from your book to stand out to someone so that they subconsciously memorize it, and they pause and ponder when they read it. When someone says a keyword of that quote, you want the reader to immediately be reminded of your book. Make sure you’ve got a flavor, one little itty line, that never entirely exits the reader’s mind. One such line is in Les Miserables (the musical)….

The blood of the martyrs will water the meadows of France.”

Fabulous. Poetic and haunting. That line leaves an aftertaste. You mention any of the key words (i.e. martyr and meadow), and I will quote that song. I am insanely in love with that particular song (Do You Hear the People Sing), but its that line that really draws me. It’s the spiciest of the spice, and it burns in my throat after months have passed since I heard the song.

Not only do I remember the line, the song, and the musical, but I’m suddenly dying to hear it again. One thing leads to another. You embed a beautiful line in your book, a yummy aftertaste will be left, and the reader will carry that line, and your book, with them.

What are some lines from your WIP that you hope will ring in your reader’s head? Leave an aftertaste?

Do You Hear the People Sing

[The recording with Anthony Warlow, whom I love.]

*Enter to win 1 of 5 copies in this giveaway!

**You won’t find this quote in my blog review because it was somewhere else in the email.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 9, 2010 4:29 PM

    Ooh, this is a great post! I had an English professor that said in every book she owned (and she was like 80 so God knows she has a ton) she wrote her favorite line in the title page after she read it. That way she could open a book years after reading it and be brought back to that one line, that special moment that gave her the ‘aftertaste’ of the book.

    Yeah, she was basically the coolest prof ever.

  2. Torrie permalink
    May 8, 2010 5:10 PM

    Your Les Miserables quote made me think of a quote I adore from another book, “Ender’s Game”. I can’t remember it word for word and I gave the book itself to a friend who has yet to read OR return it (ugh), but was something like, “They’ll be drinking his blood in the water tomorrow at breakfast.” Well, okay, it was way more poetic than that, and I really wish my memory could do it justice.
    On the topic of Ender’s Game, it is the single most incredible science fiction book I’ve ever read (twice) and if you haven’t read it, I’d so highly recommend it because I think you would really appreciate it, as well as its parallel novel, Ender’s Shadow, which is almost better.

  3. May 7, 2010 6:17 AM

    This is a really great question to ask! I hadn’t thought about it before, so I can’t answer from my own WIPs. However, “My affections and wishes have not changed, but one word from you will silence me forever” makes me go all dreamy and weak at the knees. That’s a nice novel aftertaste. 🙂

    An aftertaste is a great thing to think about while writing. Thanks for the suggestion!

    • May 7, 2010 6:26 AM

      My P&P aftertaste is the whole darned proposal (which I memorized):

      “In vain have struggled, but it will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

      Classic! 😀

      -Madeleine

  4. Dominique permalink
    May 6, 2010 7:36 PM

    When does the contest end?

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