Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Dear Reader...

I'd like to talk to you as readers, not writers today. I'm imagining that's the bulk of who reads this blog - my fellow writers - and that won't change until I've got an actual published book to pimp, so I'm okay with that. I love my fellow writers. No one understands me better. But I digress.

Recently on Romancing the Blog, Barbara Samuel posted about the RITAS (the romance novel world's Oscar equivilent basically, for those of you who might not know) and asked if readers should care about them. (Personally, I think not so much. It's more of an interior award, writer to writer, as opposed to something awarded by readers who are solely readers.) In the comments section of that post, a great discussion arose about the judging and how romance writers are overly taken with craft - more so than writers of other genres.

So, my questions to you are these - as a reader, what really pulls you out of story? What would make you put the book down? What are willing to overlook if the story is compelling? Are there things an author does that make you cringe? Have you ever given up on an author completely because of something that he/she did in a book? If so, what?


  1. I've read a few books that had no umph to them at all. The writing was boring and the story grew old in the first 20 pages. I think it's the telling vs showing thing and over all just boring writing.

    Info dumps bore the heck out of me. I don't like them. One book had true head hopping in it. I couldn't stand it.

  2. Head hopping makes me nuts, as do adverbs tagged onto quotes. She said happily or vivaciously, or whatevah. Shudder.

    I love characters who have depth.


  3. Being boring. Slow pacing. Too much world building. Stupid dialogue. Those are the big ones.

    Using the wrong word! I can tell myself over and over it's a typo, but if it looks like another word, i.e. "He poured over the manuscript" instead of the correct, "He pored over the manuscript." I just get irked.

  4. For me, it's a matter of relating to the characters. If I like the characters, then the story hooks me. I need to care about them and what happens to them. I don't mind the use of adverbs. I don't care about head-hopping. It's all about the characters. If I don't care about them, then I just drop the story.

  5. I cannot stand too much detail in a book.

    The best example I can think of with this is Tom Clancy. I love Clancy's stories, but his attention to detail drives me batty. This is why I like his movies better than his books.

    I don't read fiction to learn. I read fiction to be entertained. I like a book that I can sit down and read quickly. Of course, some people won't agree with me, I guess you cannot please everyone... :)

  6. The most recent book I spiked was due to world-building (as Sela said) and no advancement of story. I liked the characters and wanted to know more about them, but the author was too fascinated with adding shit on to the story to actually have the characters interact with the readers. And it was an author who should have known better (Jorge Amado).

    But sheer beauty (for lack of a better word) is compelling in its own right. I'm willing to overlook a lot if the side trips are beautifully written. A mastery of words pays its own dividends; see Proust e.g. (Don't mean to sound pretentious, but he's the best example I know of this.)

  7. Too many characters. I can't deal with a "cast of thousands". Pretty soon I get lost, and I don't know who's who. I also don't like storytellers who ramble. I want to scream, "Get to the point!"

    If the story is strong, I can overlook pretty much everything except for headhopping. Just like with the cast of thousands, I get confused easily.

  8. I can overlook head hopping when Nora does it. :-) I like language. Nothing loses me faster than vanilla rehash. If I want the same old same old vomited at me, I'll go to work. I agress with Hulles. If the trip is attractive, I'm happy to skip down an extra side lane or two. I like detail too, but I like it character linked. Nothing turns me off faster than a shopping list description.

  9. Stunted, unnatural dialogue will make me hurl...the book. I HATE that!

  10. OH

    Yeah, I just did that. I read six chapters and I KNEW what was about to happen. And I HATE that scenario. It was a book people have been raving about and I was so excited to read it.
    What a huge disappointment and major turnoff.
    Thing is, it was a first book in a series and there are two more ready to come out.
    Will I read them?
    Nope. No way.
    If I can figure out a major plot vehicle, and one I personally take umbrage to, in the very beginning of a book, why bother?
    One of the other male characters, which I highly suspect will play a role in the future with the heroine, is soo..... 70's Harlequin. *cringe*

    How about the OLD west period, and the sherrif thinks to himself.
    "I shouldn't have hired that deputy. He is such a LOSER."
    Loser? In the Old west?
    I was laughing when I should have been experiencing drama.
    Knocked me right out of the story.
    Good thing the HEA was great.

    I second Barbara... details details, it's gets mired in details. Ick
    OK, that's enough from a READER's POV. *grin*
    And hey, I read you ... and I'm not a writer.

    And I don't really put a lot of weight on the awards. Mostly because I don't understand what the hoopla is all about. Now reviews ... word of mouth and blogs ... that's where a reader's framework starts.

  11. I recently finished a book by a NY Times Best selling author. I really love this woman's books and purchase them the minute they come out. I found a glaring time line problem that really threw me out of the read. It was doubly disappointing, because the book is an historical and her details are usually immaculate. I have to wonder how it got through the editor.

  12. The magic WhooWhoo...

  13. Kristen,

    I don't normally read romance but the answer to your question regarding any book is sheer incredulity.

    This is the situation where the hero/heroine is down on their luck and suddenly :

    i) They win $20 million on the lottery

    ii) They discover they have a hidden talent as a concert pianist

    iii) Their long-lost uncle dies and leaves them an estate in the Bahamas

    iv) They learn to speak 14 languages overnight and are offered a senior job at the United Nations

    You get the general idea ?

    At this point I think "utter bollocks" and into the rubbish bin it goes.

    Sweet Baboo.