I like to read, love it, actually. Romances or love stories, mysteries and thrillers...although I really can't say I love Stephen King (because his books give me the heebies), I do love his ability to build a world that is so real it sticks with a person after the book is finished.
And again, I digress.
I like to read, but I realized in about September of last year that I wasn't. I was filling up my time with other things. Sometimes laundry would win out over reading. I KNOW. What kind of world is it when LAUNDRY takes up READING time?!? And so, I started reading with bebe - part of her homework is to read 20 minutes each day. Sometimes we would read together, and sometimes we would read individually, but it only took a couple of days for me to start looking forward to reading time. And then Liz brought up the 50 books challenge, and another writer friend brought up the read/watch challenge and I thought - well, here are two ways to keep reading fresh and interesting.
Last week, during my reading, I picked up a book that I thought I would love (not naming the book or naming the author, don't ask). And I didn't. The story elements I love were there, the writing was fun and fast, the dialogue perfect for the characters. But about halfway through, I just didn't feel the need to pick it back up. The pacing was still good, but I felt as if the story wasn't going anywhere. There was still tension between the main characters, there were still external forces at work. I read on to the black moment, and still I found it way to easy to put the book down. I couldn't figure out why I wasn't loving this book - all the elements were right there. This should have been a homerun for me, and it wasn't, and it bugged the bejesus out of me.
Then, I was reading Liz's post on Monday, and it hit me: for me, this book was just too long. And it wasn't a long book - I would call it a mid-length - but for me the story was over at about the halfway point. The hero and heroine had confronted their demons, they hadn't made declarations of undying love, but they'd attached to one another in a real way. And they had confronted and admitted to all those internal demons. The story, for me, was done.
So on Monday I closed the book that I still hadn't finished, although I'd gotten to the Black Moment between the characters, and I made a note: internal conflict, for me, is where it's at. I'm not saying this book didn't have internal conflict because it did, but the internal parts seemed to me to be finished midway through, and that's where the external took over. I like a good plot-driven book, I like character driven books, but in either case,the conflict needs to rest more heavily on internal conflict for me. But I said there were still forces at work in the book? Yeah, I said that. Those forces, though, were external - things outside the hero and heroine. There was a problem at her work, and there were problems with his extended family, but those things hadn't been presented in a way that should have kept the hero and heroine apart...at least not in a real way.
So I made a mental note - for my own stories - to not forget that the internal conflict is what keeps readers invested in the story. What about you? Are you looking for the internal conflict when you're reading? Or is external enough?