Friday, November 25, 2011
What do you want from a book?
Darn it. Another precious Christmas gift idea gone.
"You read it very quickly," I said.
"Oh yes, I couldn't put it down."
Um ... I was speechless on several counts and I should point out here that said friend works in a library and reads a lot of books.
As a writer, I aim to give my readers a fast-paced tale full of twists, turns and memorable characters. I want to give her a book she can't put down. She has to read just one more chapter before going to bed, and then just one more. If someone says they couldn't put my book down, I consider it a success.
As a reader, I want a book that I can't wait to get back to. I want to feel deprived if I don't have time to read it.
What about the statement "the characters didn't really do it for me" in the same breath as "I couldn't put it down"? How can that be? If I'm loving a book and racing through it, it means I care what happens to the characters. I want to see the good guys win the day and the baddies get their just desserts. I care about the characters and I'm totally wrapped up in their world.
Is it me? Is it possible to have a plot so original and exciting that the characters don't matter? Have you ever read a book where, although the characters "didn't do it for you" and the "writing wasn't anything special", you had to race to the last page?
And talking of Christmas gift ideas ... the thought of doing battle in the stores at this time of year fills me with dread but, if it's your thing, Happy Black Friday!