Okay, you can all go home now…
But it just so happens to be a little bit more complicated than that. When I said “cool”, you might have thought “14-year-old sunglasses smooth skateboard” cool. Perhaps “cool water” or “cool shade” if you live in the desert somewhere. Maybe “cool” as in just something that you like or find fascinating.
I’m using all of those definitions rolled into one…yet my definition of “cool” differs significantly from all others. You probably won’t know what I’m talking about until I explain it to you. It’s going to be far less professional than you thought it would be, however. This is because “cool” is both subjective and a feeling. What’s “cool” to the brain surgeon is probably “boring” to the layman.
When I was a kid, I and my older brother were obsessed with knights. Not like the history and lore of knights, (and that later on, however) but the actual knight figurines that you could buy off of J. Michael’s. We had a whole bunch of them: some fearsome black knights, others blue, some red. All fearless defenders of right and wrong.
Of course, with all knights, you probably know that they need a castle so they can conquer it and save the princess (we ever owned one princess). So we had this cool carboard castle that we’d construct. Maybe one of the more evil-looking knights would be guarding it, along with one or two allied dragons (we had a few of those, we’ll get back to them in a moment).
This fad lasted for probably as long as we had the knight figures. In time, they would become decrepitated and chewed on (one of the joys of having younger siblings) and would eventually thrown away. But for as long as me and my brother had the knights, we were fascinated by them. We thought they were cool.
When we weren’t playing with the knights, we were being the knights. The game would remain the same, and we would still kill the dragon, recue the princess and live happily ever after (I’m not kidding; it was this way. I am infatuated with books and stories, and it isn’t too hard to see why). Our love for knights went beyond the toys. To us, they were more than just that. Knights were cool.
Eventually, I moved on to Cars (not matchbox cars, but Pixar’s Tow Mater), but I never really forgot the knight episode. Something about them had deeply appealed to me. I had wanted to be a knight. Instead of zealously guarding the toy bucket 24/7, I was trying to aspire to be like a knight. They excited me.
“Cool” is completely the way you feel about it. The LOTR nerd will go on and on about crazy lore and how Beren One-Hand won the great jewel, the Star Wars fans can tell you all about how “Jagganath points” are the system of merit in Trandoshan culture, and that Darth Maul’s alias in “Maul: Lockdown” is also “Jagganath”, and brain surgeons are likely to not care about any of that. (and, let’s be honest, you probably don’t either)
“Cool” is what you’re interested in. It gets part of you revved up. It inspires you to go, “Man. I wanna go try that.” There’s something about that thing that makes you want to emulate it. Something about that action that makes you want to try it. Something about that special person that makes you want to go and marry them. (a broader sense of “cool” but I think you’ve gotten the idea by now)
In storytelling? Ask yourself: what’s the last thing you watched, saw, or in any other way experienced that made you want to write a book about it? For me, it’s been a lot of things: spartan cultures, alternate realities, virtually any fantasy, dystopia, and so much more. You probably have a feeling for what is “cool”. All that’s left is for you to write about it.
Good luck, and happy writing!
Be sure to check out my latest novel, Book 1 in the Praetors of Lost Magic Series, and our Publications page. Until then, writers!