What Makes Me Love You?

I’ve been thinking about what makes me love a book, and about what things need to be present in order for me to declare my love.

Often times, I can tell by the first page if I’m going to enjoy a particular book. There is something in certain books that is present from the beginning. The tone, the voice, is there from the start, and I immediately feel that connection to the characters in the story, the reasons why I even give a damn.

Even with the tone, the voice being right there, I still need a good story to sink my teeth in. I don’t necessarily need an action-packed book with twists and turns galore in order for me to be smitten.

Characters are important to me. I need to know their thoughts, feel their emotions. I need to hurt when they hurt, and soar off into the clouds when they finally reach their heart’s desire. I don’t need to even know what they look like. Chances are any description, unless it is something out of the ordinary, will be forgotten as I become engaged in the story.

I also like what I call clever writing, writing that makes me see the world in a way that I previously had not considered, or else those bits that make me sit up and take notice, declare, “Oh my God that’s exactly right!” You’ve got to love the author who can do that.

The book I’m reading at the moment is good solid writing. I would challenge anyone to say otherwise. However, here are no eloquent phrases, nor flowing sentences, no lovely passages that insist, “read me” one more time. Did I mention that those are some of the things I also like to see in a good book?

When describing this book I compared it to one of those books that we don’t want to put down, but saying that in the case of this book I wouldn’t care if I pick it up again. And yet, it doesn’t mean I hate it. If I don’t finish it I won’t really care because there’s a question that is plaguing me about this book and it’s this:

Where’s the story?

This is what I keep asking as I forge onward.

In order to make up for the plethora of questions I asked in an earlier post I’ve decided to leave you with one this time.

What is more important to you in a book the writing or the story?

Leave a comment

19 Comments

  1. I read for story. I write the same way. Characters are important, but if they’re not doing anything except drift through daily routines and drop hints about something awful that happened in the past, I’m gone. And the writing? Well, I guess I’d say that sometimes a good yarn can overcome the writing–I did finish the DaVinci Code.

    Reply
    • Now I’m the first one to admit I like nice writing but I have to like the story as well. I have sometimes thought that although the writing wasn’t so great the story kept me turning the page.

      Reply
  2. chracters first, story second,
    I can do great characters but not an elaborate plot, and not the other way. I get bored.
    However, great characters usually give way to great plot – they’re too interesting and inspired to do otherwise. lol

    Reply
    • A plot can be interesting without big things happening. Maybe it is the writer who can make the mundane seem interesting. They can also make it seem effortless. Hopefully there are several different elements that goes into a good book, and again it goes back to personal taste. Doesn’t it? I’ve loved books that other people thought were horrible and vise versa.

      Reply
  3. I think the story is most important, but there is a limit to how lacking the writing may be before I give up on it. Writing counts, too. Blessings to you, Laura…

    Reply
    • So strange Carl Ann because the book I am presently reading won some pretty hefty awards and still I’m asking, “What the heck is it all about?” I’m not even sure why I should care. And yet many other people obviously have read it and not felt this way.

      Reply
  4. It’s a combination. I want wonderful characters, a fascinating setting, and an intelligent story. I loved War and Peace, Heaven’s Prisoner, and The Client to name a few. I want to feel a spectrum of emotions while I’m reading. I like to laugh, cry, care, think. I hope I write stories that fill that bill. I’m trying.

    Reply
    • I’m sure we all try and write stories that have all these characteristics. Still with all our best efforts there will be some whi still won’t like what we do. That is something all writers need to accept. All we can do is be true to ourselves and write the story we want to write, the way we want to write it.

      Reply
  5. syr ruus

     /  March 15, 2011

    The story is: We are born and we die. In between those two points there are incidents that can be made meaningful and interesting to others through GOOD WRITING. Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) wrote a fascinating account about an old feller switching his “sucking stones” from one of his coat pockets to another.

    Reply
    • This is true, Syr, and yet everything that is ever written is subject to personal opinions and tastes. I do think that good writing is a must, but can we all even agree what good writing even is? As in the book I am now reading, a book that has been called one of the best the country has to offer, I’m still looking for a more interesting account.

      Maybe I’m just too difficut to please or maybe I’m looking to find fault.

      Reply
      • syr ruus

         /  March 15, 2011

        You’re right — it has to resonate with your own experience of life.

        Reply
  6. It has to have both, but the story is more important…otherwise, one might as well read poetry (which I really don’t get into)…

    Wendy

    Reply
    • I don’t read much poetry either, Wendy, but I do appreciate poetic writing so long as it isn’t too, too flowery.

      Reply
  7. christicorbett

     /  March 16, 2011

    For me, it’s a combination of both.

    I have a book on my shelf that I bought because I loved the story (it had been made into a movie and I bought the book, thinking it would be even better). But the writing was such a disappointment that I never made it past page thirty. Still sad about that, and still wonder how the screenwriter made it through such murky waters to pull out the great story within.

    Great post!

    Christi Corbett

    http://christicorbett.wordpress.com

    Reply
    • Hi Christi, nice to have you drop in..I hate it when a book doesn’t end up being what we hoped it would be, especially when the movie was great.

      Oh, that sounds like a big disappointment to not be able to make it past page thirty. Sometimes we can punish it through a read, but then again that’s a bit like saying our time isn’t worth something. I guess that goes to show what was good screenwriter is capable of.

      Reply
  8. “What is more important to you in a book the writing or the story?”

    Story, for sure. I like a crisp pace, snappy dialogue & characters worthy of a 2nd thought.(Harlan Coben is excellent.) I can do without info dumps, extensive imagery, redundancy, & overdone backstory. I’m a “get to the point” type. If I find early on that I don’t like a book – I cut my losses & move on to something else. “The Road” is an example of a “big hit” that I gave up on.

    Reply
    • Hi Dave!My husband would agree with you on that. He likes fast-paced books as well.

      I’m not for extensive imagery either. I don’t care to read the description of places that drag on and on. Those are the parts I usually skip over. Oops! Did I say I skip over parts sometimes? LOL! I really try not to but sometimes too much description slows the pace down to a snail’s crawl.

      Reply
  9. When I pick up a book to read, the first few pages mean a lot in regards to my interest level. I appreciate good characters and/or a story that pulls me in. It’s when time has passed unnoticed because I’m immersed in the story that I know I have a good book in my hands.
    Sometimes I have to put a book away and go back to it later. I have found that not all books are easily read but at a later date I can read them through. It’s not always the right time for some of them .. for me.

    Reply
    • I like to have the first page or two draw me in as well. I can usually tell right away if I will enjoy a book or not. Sometimes it takes awhile for the story to get underway. Maybe I’m just impatient.

      Reply

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