Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What do you look for in a book?

I’ve been reading through the threads on the net, and saw a lot of comments about wither or not certain books are worth reading. Well, that got me thinking, we want to write what people want to read, right?

Our goal is to improve our writing so that readers will enjoy what we wright, right? How do we go about improveing our writing? Well, I think the first step is to look at what we ourselves read. So, what is it that you read? Why do you read what you do? What is it that makes certain books enjoyable for you?

When you head to the library or the bookstore or even Amazon.com, what do you look for in a book?

What makes you choose to buy one book and not the other?

Try this excerise and see if it doesn’t help you to become a better writer. Sit down and think about what it is that makes a good book good to you, and write it down. I have just done this, and here is what I came up with:

When in the bookstore or library, the first thing that catches my eye is the cover art, I think about half of my 10, 000+ books I bought for the cover art, without ever reading the blubs or the book for that matter.

For books I actually read, the cover could be a blank white page for all I care… if it’s a good book, I’ll buy it regardless of the cover.

What makes it good for me: characters. I have to have at least one character that I can identify with or fall head over heels in love with or whom I can root for. I tend to favor male MCs over female, prob’ly because I’m a female and I like “falling in love with” the MC.

Second to the characters, I like good “life like” dialouge, and a lot of it. You can’t have a character driven story without dialouge. However, not all dialouge is good dialouge… you start harping out in barely legable ye old English and the book’ll get shelved before I finish the sentance. Make it sound real. You don’t speak in perfect grammar and neither should your characters.

Settings. Settings influance your characters. Settings should be well written and clear, free of confusion. Settings should not take the lime light though unless the setting itself is the MC. Remember that your story is about your characters not the setting, so keep that in balance.

Stories need a beginning and middle and an end, but I like stories best that “don’t quite end”, by that I mean, it leaves an opening hole so that there could be a second, third, or fourth book… in other words it alows the option to continue the story at a later date.

That brings us to what I find most important: a series. I love to read five, six, ten, twenty books about a single character, esp if it’s a character I can identify with.

Another factor that weighs in heavy is the genre of the story; if it’s a gothic romance with a terrified girl and haunted house on the cover, I’ll buy it no matter what it is, just cause I collect gothic romance books, eventually I read them, saddly only a few are actually worth reading, but the cover art was worth the price of the book.

The genre I enjoy reading the most is science fiction, followed by mystery, than horror, and lastly romance. Action and adventure stories are great, but there are so few writers that can really pull it off. Fantasy I like IF I can find any that is original… they all seem to be rip-offs of each other, they all sound alike, like they were all written by the same author… it gets boreing after a while.


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