Sunday, October 20

What happens when you don't believe?

     
    Today I was reading a book by a long-time favorite author and came upon a scene I didn’t believe. The hero hears something about the heroine’s father. The heroine insists he tell her what was said, even though she knows the comment came from an unfriendly and not necessarily truthful source. Finally, unhappily, he tells her what was said.
          Guess who she gets mad at.
          Right. The hero. How could you say such a thing? she raged. (I’m paraphrasing here, but that’s pretty close to how it went.)
          I have major problems with the heroine anyway. She’s 30 years old and still being led around by the nose by her mother, who I’m pretty sure is certifiable. The hero is better, but he’s still mad at everyone he went to high school with even though I really can’t tell what any of them—other than the not-changed-a-bit class bully—did to him.
          Sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it?
          Well, it’s not. Just as I have read the rest of her books—many more than once—I will read the rest of this one. The heroine will grow up and grow strong and the hero will end as…yes, a hero. And I will be happy.
          This is how I know that it’s the writing that sells me on a book. All the better, for sure, if there’s a really good story involved, but I don’t always have to have that.
          What about you? Story or writing? I know “both” is the best answer and many times we get lucky and get both. But if we don’t, if all the pieces don’t fit together, what will keep you reading? And once you’ve read it, will you give it a review? Will you re-read it? More importantly, will you buy the author’s next book?

21 comments:

  1. Story for me, I think. More than once I've read stories that weren't written well, but still stuck around for the end. But fiction that just meanders around and doesn't seem to have a direction leaves me cold, no matter how well it's written.

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  2. It's a great thing for writers, isn't it, that not everyone has to have the same thing!

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  3. it's story for me, too. But when characters do things like you mentioned (getting mad at the wrong person, etc), I usually do put the book down, and sometimes it takes me a LONG time to pick it back up.

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  4. Right, Kristi. And if the writing's not great, I'm not going to pick it back up at all. :-)

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  5. I think it's both. For me, the test of a good book is when I see the cover of a book I've read and can instantly recall characters and basic plot info. I've been leaving more mini-reviews on Goodreads and my blog.

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  6. I agree, Molly--both is best. I must admit, since I have a Kindle, I never remember covers. I look at the cover when I order the book, but don't retain how it looks. I think the mini-reviews are helpful!

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  7. I might keep reading this one, but there are some I tossed at the trash can for poor writing.

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  8. Me, too, Calisa. Unfortunately, I think that's happening more often lately--don't know whether it's the writer being lax or the reader being too picky.

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  9. If the writing is not strong, I don't continue reading. I don't consider myself a picky reader, just an overwhelmed one. Life is too short and the number of available books too great to continue reading something that doesn't appeal to me. Doesn't mean someone else won't like them. For that reason, I only give reviews on books that speak to me.

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  10. Makes perfect sense to me, Ashantay. I often forget to leave reviews anywhere, yet I know how much I love to GET them.

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  11. I simply cannot abide TSTL heroines. I quit one of my favorite authors because she got into this mode. Like Ashantay said, life's too short.

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  12. That's what makes this writer one of my favorites, though--this heroine has enough stupid moments to put my teeth on edge, but she's very human in some of them, too. It won't be unbelievable when she comes out of it, and the good thing is I know she won't come out of it oh-so-suddenly in the last chapter; it'll be a gradual thing.

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  13. Story and characters have to come first. The most beautiful writing in the world won't keep me reading if the story and characters fall flat. Conversely, poor writing draws me out of the story and separates me from the characters.

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  14. There you go, Alison, wanting both! :-) But can't you stay with it one way or the other? I can stay with the so-so story if the writing's good!

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  15. It's story for me! I can look over bad writing if the story draws me in.

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  16. I'm like you - the writing draws me in every time. This is very timely for me because I'm reading a book by a favorite best selling author, but I'm having to suspend belief. The hero is a reporter who hasn't been able, in more than 10 years, to track down his sister once they were separated and put into separate foster homes! Really???? He must be a bad reporter, huh? I'm not finished so I'm hoping I'll get one really good reason why he wasn't able to track her down. Worse, I can't figure out why his being a reporter was even relevant to the story, except that he was someone who didn't like to put down roots. However, that could be a lot of professions. I still love this author - she has a way of drawing you in emotionally, and the dialogue is realistic.

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  17. Content over style every time. Sorry. Writers write, but good stories become legend in time. Style certainly helps.

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  18. Thanks for coming by, Shawn. I can't get past the bad writing! Sounds like you're in the same place as I am, Maria. I finished the one I was reading last night--still not happy with it. I won't read it again, but I will read her next one!

    Hi, Craig. I agree with you about good stories, but think that kind of story (at least in written form) is always accompanied by good writing.

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  19. The editor is the reader--so it's almost always the writing unless the story is so killer, I can't resist. Even then, I'm a creep and take the writing apart after I've finished. And I'm inclined to agree that really good stories often mean good writing, although I can honestly say that I've read what I though could be a fabulous story and it got ruined by really bad writing.

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  20. I think when it comes to finishing a story, it has to be the writing. The story is what makes me pick the book up and possibly purchase it--along with a great cover :) but the writing is what keeps me turning the pages. I've started some great stories--great ideas to begin with--that didn't hold up in the plotting and dialogue. And like someone else said, I don't have enough time to struggle to finish a book I'm not really enjoying.

    Good post, Liz. Sorry I was late to the party.

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  21. Blogger just ate my comment, and I had written a TON! Thanks for coming by, Nan and Margie!

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