X … is for ‘X’ factor

X[1] is for ‘X’ factor. Don’t you dare suggest I’m cheating; it’s an accepted term. Anyway, I doubt if I’ll be the only one who uses a bit of artistic license at some stage of the A to Z.

Enough, enough, let’s move on to the interesting parts.

What is the ‘X’ factor?

Ah, now we have a real quandary, because it means different things to different people. Before we investigate that question too far, I think we’ll have another question. No, I am not joking.

Does the ‘X’ factor exist in reading or writing?

Both, is my response to that, but wouldn’t you just know it. That was rhetorical, so take your fingers off the keyboard.

What is the ‘X’ factor in reading?

For some, the plot is the key to whether a book is worth the investment, while to others it is the characters. Whatever sways us is a personal thing. I’m a massive Wilbur Smith fan and I find myself willing the good guys to survive against the overwhelming odds, and hoping the bad guys are left on the Serengeti with a complicated fracture to a leg.

I’ve never physically been to Africa, but I feel that I know the smells, the tastes, and sensations of being in that wilderness. I know the fears of the characters. I understand the hopes of those who are fighting for good, and occasionally their desperation. I understand their acceptance that they might die for the greater good.

In a previous career, I experienced extreme heat, extreme cold, fear, excitement and a whole load of things to be kept for my writing, but I think for some of us, our reading and writing is enriched by experience. I respect and admire Wilbur Smith so much, because he made me feel some of those things before I had ever experienced them.

That is for me, a true ‘X’ factor in reading.

What is the ‘X’ factor in writing?

May I use my own novels as a testament here? Of course I may; it’s my post. In ‘Beyond The Law’, the hero is an ex-Special Forces soldier who returns home to his native Glasgow in Scotland. He has been ejected by the very system he dedicated his life to. When his military career comes to an untimely end, he becomes a vigilante. Yay!

As a reader or writer, for me there are few stronger ‘X’ factors than a highly-skilled, extremely fit (and dare I say handsome) individual, who answers to no-one. The hero is judge, jury and occasionally executioner. No, it isn’t autobiographical, but there will be areas where a little personal knowledge, or experience has helped. My reviews so far suggest I created some ‘X’ factor. Yay! again.

In my novel, ‘Ten Days in Panama’ the hero is a journalist, but one with strong ideals and a big heart, (damaged by previous love). He goes to Panama on assignment and meets his liaison, an attractive (yawn, yawn) scientist, who also has strong ideals, and a similarly broken heart. They get together in more ways than one, but there is evil lurking. One man is out to kill both of them. Does he get either one?

I’ve never been to Panama, but due to being in touch with a friend out there, met on a poetry site of all places, I had the ideal collaborator. To cut to the chase, my friend Carmen, is a scientist and lives in the area that the story is based. Thanks to her ability to describe places to me, a lot of research on my own behalf, and the desire to write a good tale, I felt I could do the idea justice.

My own knowledge of certain aspects in the tale, and Carmen‘s knowledge in others, produced my greatest compliment on my writing. I’ve been asked twice if the two main characters are real, and if the story is based on fact. (Excuse me while I blush).

Carmen has been asked similar questions by one or two who live near her remote lab. In her case it was questions about the characters, but since I’ve never met them, they can’t be real. All characters were hybrids of reality and imagination. Yay! okay, that was the last one.

What is this elusive ‘X’ factor then?

For me, whether it is reading or writing, it comes down to one undeniable truth. The writer must create ‘authenticity’.

It doesn’t matter whether you write about journalists, soldiers, vampires, shape-shifters, dragons, sex, science, romance, or adventure. The key ingredient that will make the end product stand out, and work … is authenticity. That is my ‘X’ factor.

I realise this is a longer and deeper investigation of today’s chosen word or phrase, but I felt it deserved the time spent. I hope as always that you have enjoyed reading this as much as I’ve enjoyed teasing out my final hairs writing it.

Only two more letters to go. I know many of my fellow A to Z challengers out there in blog-land are fretting over the final letters, but I have no such worries. Why not? I can’t tell you, because although I know what I’m using for the final two letters, the last two are still in my head in a little bright-coloured box.

Thank you for your time once again, and I’ll see you tomorrow for ‘Y’.



3 thoughts on “X … is for ‘X’ factor

  1. It must be amazing to get those comments and shows you’ve written from a sense of knowing..
    Hmm.. got me thinking.. I agree it needs to be authentic but there’s something else surely.. that bit of magic.. that has us tingling and amazed at what we’re seeing, reading or writing.


  2. It’s funny–I can read 10 books and connect with most of them, but only ONE will light that fire…that feeling that you can’t wait to see what happens next. You know it’s a good book when you’re thinking about it in between reads! I think the key to creating that story is to feel that way about it when you’re writing it…



  3. There are odd X-Factor books in self help that go viral and are loved by many and then burn out. I am no fan of Erotica but that obviously ignited something. I don’t think all X-Factor books are necessarily logical for those who look for quality in a book. I took a very interesting workshop with the author of HIT LIT : Cracking The Code of The 20th Century’s Bestsellers (James W. Hall) he focuses explicitly on novels. This X-Factor post reminded me of the workshop, which was basically going through his very interesting book. As usual #AtoZchallenge ☮Peace ☮ ღ ONE ℒℴνℯ ღ ☼ Light ☼ visiting from http://4covert2overt.blogspot.com/


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