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The Perfect Book…for Me.

8

January 5, 2011 by Renee

I’ve got about twenty minutes before I have to venture into the frozen tundra, uphill, to get my kids from school. So, today’s post will be relatively short. I say relatively because I can type pretty darn fast.

On the querying front: Another rejection. Boo! Hiss! Thanks for your support. I’ll keep begging for abuse. It’s starting to grow on me anyway.

Now, for the fun stuff. I’ve been reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels recently and something strange is happening. I am NOT a huge fan of the writing in terms of her technique. I think that’s what it is. Sometimes parts are extremely clunky and I’m actually cringing at the awfulness of it, others times I’m impressed. Now, most times when I’ve noticed so many…failings, in a book, I put it down. I might give the author another chance and read the next book, but if I’m still not impressed after two, forget it. I. Can’t. Stop. Reading. These. Books. Why? It’s very disturbing for me. I don’t know. I can’t wait to get my hands on the fifth installment either. What is happening to me?

I’ll tell you what I think it is. I think there are many elements that make a book worth reading. Sometimes the writer gets things wrong, sometimes they get just enough right to keep you reading. This author has blended enough “something” to keep me hooked. I love brilliant characters and yes, I’ll overlook shitty writing if the characters spark something in me. Now, let me clarify for all of you, I don’t think Ms. Harris’s writing is shitty. It’s inconsistent. Very good at times, horrible at others. She’s obviously got skill, but there are a lot of visible problems with what she writes. Her plots are…a stretch, resolutions are improbable and sometimes lazy, and sometimes the passive voice is so loud my ears hurt. But when she gets it right, and she does, it’s magic.

I’m also a sucker for good dialogue. Natural dialogue that makes me forget I’m reading a book. These novels have some great dialogue. (yes some sucky dialogue too, but mostly great) Dialogue will make or break a novel for me. It’s one of the most important factors for me. I don’t care if everything else is right, if the dialogue sucks, I’m done.

POV doesn’t matter to me. I can read any POV and enjoy it. I know people who refuse to read first person, some hate omniscient; if it’s done right, I love any POV.

Plot is the other thing that I place great importance on. By this I mean the action, the pace and the resolution. Nothing can piss me off more than a bullshit ending. If it’s wrapped up so fast you aren’t sure what happened I get hives. (by the way, I get hives when I’m angry. Your interesting fact for the day) A cliffhanger makes me break things. Not my things, other people’s things. An ending that is so cliched it makes me nauseous will put me off an author too.

What’s my point? I find it interesting how a million people can buy a book and rave about it and I pick it up and hate it, or they hate it and I love it. Tell me, what 5 things does a book have to have for you to love it?

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8 thoughts on “The Perfect Book…for Me.

  1. Patti says:

    character and plot with minimal description. I hate flowery description.

  2. Renee Miller says:

    Oh I can't believe I forgot about the purple stuff. I'm with you on that Patti. I like clean, even raw styles of writing where the author doesn't sugarcoat or heap a ton of adverbs and ridiculously long/never used words in there to make it sound 'smarter'. Although, on the other hand, I don't like when writers are too sparse. We do need some description.

  3. Twills says:

    I have the fifth installment if you want to borrow it? FB me or catch me in person. :)There are a ton of continuity errors which become apparent when you've read the entire series. I think it was the character Clancy, he dies three times. There is also one book in which Claudine is called by the wrong name three times in the same book, two different names.I can forgive errors like this because I find the story compelling, and also because I don't get the same feeling that I got while reading the Twilight Series. I couldn't stop reading but it simultaneously made me want to kill myself and I didn't want anyone to catch me in the act. Then there's Eric. *drool*

  4. Renee Miller says:

    "Twills"Thanks, I didn't even think of asking you if you had any more. But I ordered books 5 through 9. Terrible, isn't it? I had Amazon gift cards for Christmas and I waste them on books I'm not even sure why I love. I think the Claudine issue is in three or four. I remember being slightly confused. I only watched 2.5 episodes of True Blood in the first season. Then I decided I wanted to read the books first. Eric was in one of those episodes very briefly. So I can honestly say the show didn't affect my feelings for the character. And yes, Eric = drool. I'd get into serious trouble if I knew a fellow like Eric. You're right though, it's compelling. You're drawn in despite the inaccuracies, inconsistencies and errors here and there. Man, I wish I could get away with that. Actually, I am learning tons about writing from them. Sort of. I wish I'd thought of a character like Eric first. Sigh.

  5. Mike Keyton says:

    I suppose it all amounts to the one central fact that fine words without a story don't amount to much. A good story trumps style.

  6. Renee Miller says:

    I used to be confident that a good story was the crucial element, but these books I'm reading, I'm not sure the story is that exceptional and yet I can't stop reading them. Why? Has the artic freeze wrecked my brain?

  7. Constar says:

    Okay im totally with you on this one! its how i felt about twilight. When i picked it up i said to myself " i cant believe your going to read this right now. just keep an open mind, it will be mindless reading" because teen romance and vampires has got to be a train wreck. i was partially right. Stephanie Meyers isnt what i would call a word smith, i found myself saying out loud a few times " shit character description." or " can bella put women back any further in time, seriously? my sister reads this!!" but at the same time i couldnt put the damn things down! a few things for me that a book must have: 1. an unsuspected plot. if i can guess whats going to happen to the main characters or whats already happened, fuck it. 2. The depth of the character. I want to be able to know this person without being bored to tears with description. I want to feel what they feel. 3. Truth. If a writer can get to the truth of the moment, im theirs forever. 4. Good use of metaphors. i like when a writer can weave a story so well that you may not even notice the metaphors and connections arising. There's background noise, something other then whats on the surface. does that make sense?The one writer ive been singing the praises of recently is Jodi Picoult. I just started reading her work, and i cannot put her books down. She is an incredible writer!

  8. Renee Miller says:

    ConstarI've heard awesome things about Jodi Picoult. I'll have to bump them up my reading list. You make total sense in number 4. I love it when I don't realize the 'background noise' until much later. It's then that you discover a whole other dimension to the story and that's when I'll read a book more than once. It doesn't happen often though, does it?And to all the newbs to the Edge, thanks for stopping by. I love new…faces. 🙂

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Renee

Renee

I like to write stuff. Sometimes it's funny. I've published some novels and short fiction. I also battle an addiction to cake and potato chips, and I sometimes have inappropriate fantasies involving Kevin Spacey.

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