Saturday, February 03, 2007

Writing Craft

I've been reading a book I don't like. No I'm not going to discuss which book or include a link. It would not be helpful or kind. Besides what I like is entirely subjective. I do read books I don't enjoy for a number of reasons. The most important is that I hope to learn something from them.

What turns me off a book? First and foremost, characters I don't care about. Second, story choices. The writer can be technically brilliant and still have trouble engaging me if he's telling me a story about fishing. I'm not anti-fishing mind you. But getting me to read a whole book about it is definitely rowing up stream. Just the kind of pointless activity fishing enthusiasts engage in - but I digress.

Characters can be both attractive and sympathetic, but if they do not ring true to my ear the story fails to engage me. Walking the line between characters I believe in and characters who are sufficiently heroic to succeed as romantic protagonists is a big struggle for me.

When I read an engaging story written by someone else it flows effortlessly. Examining the underpinnings, trying to master those same feats leaves me flat on my back staring at the ceiling and wondering how they make it look so easy.


Blogger Melissa James said...

I've read a few books I wouldn't call "keepers". I usually make myself finish them because, like you, I hope to learn something. Only once have I actually been so turned off by a book that I had to quit reading it after I forced myself through a hundred or so pages.

In that particular story, the heroine was terribly passive. She didn't do anything, she was more like a pawn in a story about five other people. But the main reason I find myself not liking a book is a lack of connection between the H/h that goes beyond the physical. I've read some stories where I truly did not see a thing besides sex that drew the characters to each other. The emotion has to be there, too, or it just doesn't fly for me.

8:13 PM  
Blogger Lori Borrill said...

I'm exactly the same way. If there's nothing but physical attraction between two people, I just can't buy the love story.

It's also one of the things that frightens me most about writing--putting together characters people care about. I remember when I'd finished PC, I felt the characterization was really weak, so it didn't surprise me that's what Kathryn focused on in the revisions. Though we made it better, I still don't feel like I've got that part of the craft down.

And unfortunately, that's kind of important! LOL!

But I'm like you. What will turn me off a book quicker than anything is a couple I don't care about. And they don't even have to be unlikeable. Often it's just the "ho hum" aspect of a couple that turns me off. But I also think it's one of the most difficult things to do really well when it comes to writing.

8:19 AM  
Blogger Evanne said...

The book I'm finding unengaging is not a romance. Obviously, that's where I went wrong. LOL

In all reading, romance or not, I want characters I'm cheering for. The exception is non-fiction where I am reading for information rather than entertainment.

Coming up with engaging characters, who fall in love, but have a non-lame conflict, which is still resolvable . . . all of it is hard. Some days impossible. :)

10:12 AM  

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