This is inspired by a little conversation I had recently that got me thinking about what the absolute essential thing is that makes us love a book, and how that has inspired our writing. Is it an MC you fall in love with (whether romantically or otherwise?) Is it beautiful language? Is it the character ARC? Is it a plot that surprises? Is it elegance? Because this stuff is all a matter of taste. Even within these there are taste differences, but I think all of us have one of these elements we care about a lot more than the other. Now there are things about the OTHER elements that can make me put a book down:
|No Bella; Yes Forest|
Worse than stupid is a BORING MC (think Bella Swann), though I recently read a disappointing Margaret Atwood book (Bodily Harm) with a boring MC, and what distinguished her was she was not ACTING. Stuff was just happening TO HER. Yeah, none of that, thanks.
In terms of language, I love it if it's beautiful, but if too much is too beautiful it pulls me out of the story. Sort of like life, I prefer my beautiful trickled. Otherwise it sticks to the roof of your mouth. But far worse than TOO beautiful is clunky or error-ridden. I just can't ignore poor grammar and am only a little willing to ignore a couple typos.
I like character growth, but depending on the plot, it isn't always necessary. But ME?
I like a plot with some twists and surprises but DO NOT like a plot where the twists come out of left field. I know in life some events do that, but they are the sort of events that precipitate a story. Not the sort that totally change it mid-stream. I LOVE when something happens and it makes me shout “I KNEW IT!” but one page earlier it would not have come to mind... some little seed was planted, but the hints as it grew were elegantly hidden except in the smallest of peeks.
IN MY WRITING
What this means to me is I HAVE to have some sort of timeline. The big events need to me conceived before I get started. I need to be working toward them. In mysteries I actually diagram... who are my suspects, what are their motives, what clues with the MC discover to connect each of them as a potential killer? From there it is more like a puzzle than a magic act. Oh, I still surprise myself, and I let myself add or change. Plans are not set in stone. Even a written story is not set in stone—stuff can be built in later. But I need most of it to at least hit the main plot points I started with.
As to That...
I am at about the halfway mark for NaNoWriMo and it is going well. I have reached the part where it gets harder, but hey, I always know 3rd quarter is my biggest struggle. I am enough ahead that I only NEED to write about 1200 words a day from here on out, though I'd prefer to be closer to the 60K mark at the end of the month. A rewrite is worth 10-15K added in, and I really need to be over 70K when I am done.
How about all of you? What component of a book is the “must” for you? And how has it influenced your writing? And if you are NaNoing, how is it coming?