Hi, my name is Dwight Okita. I'm new here. I'd like to pose this question to book lovers. I write novels and I know why critics and authors like books. But I'm especially interested to hear what makes readers fall in love with books.
If it helps, be specific. Talk about the last book or recent book you fell in love with and why. Was it the characters (which one, why, at one point did you love them?). Was it the plot (what makes a plot work for you, pull you in, the situations, do you most like the beginning/middle/end?). Was it the voice that drew you closer like a siren singing in your ear? (the language, dialog, description, point of view?).
The reason I ask this is because I'm revising my second novel THE HOPE STORE. And I always want to improve as a writer. And I think the key is understanding the journey, the experience, that the reader goes through. How they experience the novel's pace, how they empathize with the hero's goal or dream or problem.
I'll give an example of something I fell in love with recently. Usually I don't like short stories because many of them seem to smart alecky and workshoppy and snarky. But recently I read short stories by three very different writers: Haruki Murakami (a Japanese writer of trippy surreal stories), Philip K Dick (sci fi writer whose short stories have become films like Bladerunner and Adjustment Bureau), and Etgar Keret (an Israeli writer of tiny stories that are charming and powerful).
But first I'd like to hear from you readers. Then I'll talk about one of these stories and why I fell in love with it. How's that?
Also, it'd be great if you can follow my blog "Long Day's Journey Into Dwight" in which I tell of my experience as an indie author. Self publishing, royalties, author collectives, kindle giveaways, reviews, blogging, etc. Thanks. Let me know if you follow me or add your email. Then I'll be happy to do the same if you let me know your blog.
My blog is: http://dwightokita2011.blogspot.com
I was thinking of expanding it to two...one for classic and one for contemporary. I always wonder, though, what the cut-off line should be. If you ask a library, F. Scott Fitzgerald is contemporary, whereas, most readers do not think of him this way. I don't know...what do you think?
Hi Amy, I don't really think in those terms. I am mostly interested in contemporary fiction myself. But why don't you define classic and contemporary in a way that makes sense to you? That's what I would do if I separated them.
what makes me fall in love with a book:
characteristics of the main character
and most of all the part that makes me want to keep reading
check out my blog http://thebloomingreader.blogspot.com/ please follow thankyou
Hi Amelia, thanks for your thought. The ending of a book is crucial for me too!
I'm following your blog now. Please follow mine too. Thanks.
Character diversity. I practice what I preach and always make sure I have some color or ethnic diversity in my books. Planet Janitor has some radical diversity. I love humor and irony--something that takes the edge off. I'm very fond of original style and voice. It's not so much what the writers writes but how he writes it.
Hi Chris, my life is diverse in Chicago so I like diversity in my books too. Love irony as well.
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I fall in love with suspenseful stories with hot characters I would fall in love with in real life. ;)
Just kidding... although that is the case with my favorite books, The Mortal Instruments&The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare.
I like books that make me feel things, things where I actually CARE about the character, and who says THANK YOU. My biggest pet peeve is when people are ungrateful in books, I don't know why.
Hi Emily. I'm intrigued by your comment. When you say you like characters that say thank you -- what do you mean? Is it thanks to the reader or to another character? It's an interesting comment and I would like to understand it. Thanks.
Sorry for being so vague!
And I like it when they say thanks to another character when the character does something for them- in example, I read a book called Daughter Of The Centaurs, and I hated it- one of the main reasons?
These people are EXTREMELY kind to her, go out of their way to make her feel welcome, and just keep doing things for her, and not ONCE, not ONCE, in 362 pages, does she even give them a grateful smile, much less thank them for everything they've done!
I don't know if i'm just odd about this, having been brought up in an extremely polite household, but I just can't stand it when books, especially books that go into detail like Daughter Of The Centaurs, where they have pages and pages of tedious conversations, do not have the main character thank the characters who go out of their way to help them!
Another example is Incarnate by Jodi Meadows, although in the main character's defense, she does eventually thank the character who saved her life- for being a friend, NOT for saving her life.
Sorry for my superlong 4-paragraph rant, I just am very touchy about this topic in books.
Best of luck with your writing,
I completely understand what you are saying! It almost makes the main character's personality less likeable! Therefore, the book is less likable!
Emily, thanks so much for your response. I think that's a good point. When one character does something very generous for another character -- I would also want the character to respond in kind. As Amy said, when they aren't grateful, it makes it harder to like the character.
Thanks for clarifying, Emily. I'm enjoying the discussion of what makes readers fall in love with books. Which also touches on what makes readers fall out of love with books. I read a very interesting book called GENEROSITY by Richard Powers. It's about a writing teacher who discovers a student from a foreign country who has seen her family murdered. Yet she is one of the most cheerful people he's ever seen. He comes to believe there is a happiness gene that she has inherited and she becomes the source of media attention.
I loved the book. But for me the book ended beautifully about 20 pages before it actually ended. It's a minor quibble. In my own mind, I edited the book to end where I liked it. And loved it! This is an example of where plot is crucial to loving the story. One thing that I as a writer am going to use as I develop my current novel THE HOPE STORE is I'm going to have a 3 page synopsis of my book. That way I can see the big picture as I revise. I think I am very good with character and emotion and language. And I'm very good with premises and the opening 1/3 of my book. I struggle more with the last 2/3 of the book's plot. The 3 page synopsis should make for a stronger storyline and character arcs.
I am avid reader, I enjoy several different kinds of genres. Sometime it the Cover that get me to pick up the book. Then I read the back cover. If I think It will make me laugh or I want to read more I then get the book to read. My favorite that I enjoy the most though I have lost is a new one Called "The Heart's Frontier" though this is only book 1 of the series I am really looking forward to Book two that coming out soon. The authors of the book made me want to know more or follow along. I felt for each character in the book. This book a little of the Amish but also a part of the Wild West theme and it Great. I also love to be feel like I am a part of that family or community.
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