Y is for… (#AtoZChallenge 2012)

Y is for You

(Post 25 on my WIP)

To be ‘successful’ writers need readers and I’m hoping that means you.

As readers I believe we are jointly responsible for creating the story, we filter it through our own personal lens and analyse the work through our own experience. A book will be read in a different way by everyone who reads it and in a different way again on repeat readings.

I think I have learnt an important lesson for me and I think that is that I would prefer to share my work when it is more complete – where I have at least a complete outline and a fuller understanding of my characters if not a full first draft. I find I can get easily confused if too many filters are used and find it hard to back track to the original view. That is not to say the views of others aren’t or won’t be important – I think I would just be able to be clearer about what can be re-filtered and what I want/need to stay raw.

What I’d like to know today though is all about you and your reading habits – feel free to tell me anything but I’m particularly interested in the following questions (feel free to answer as many or as few as you like):
Where do you like a story to start?
What traits do you look for in a main character?
What do you look for in an ending?
If a series is planned do you like cliffhangers or prefer each book to be rounded off?
Where do you read?
E or paper or both?
Binger or snacker? (i.e. Do you prefer to read books as quickly as possible, sometimes in one go or one chapter at a time, making the ‘flavour last’)
Do you read books more than once? Why? What happens in a repeat reading?
To you what makes a good book?

I look forward to reading all about you and eventually I’d really love to be able to give you my interpretation of Training Time for you to filter in your way.

Posted on April 28, 2012, in #am writing (and all things writing related), April A-Z Challenge, Training Time (WIP) and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Hi Kirsty

    I sus[ect my likes and dislikes are slightly different than most people, so I thought I’d give you my answers, although I wouldn’t put too much importance on them if/when they differ from your feelings about how the story should go.

    Where do you like a story to start?
    As far into the action as possible, even to the point that I spend the first few pages thinking, huh?

    What traits do you look for in a main character?
    To be interesting. Doesn’t matter if I like them, identify with them or am disgusted by them, the big no-no is to be dull. Be someone who makes stuff happen and makes me feel SOMETHING, even if that something is eewww!

    What do you look for in an ending?
    That it is consistent with the story, is not an artificial twist for the sake of it, ta-da! I don’t care whether it’s happy or sad, or ties up all the loose ends or not. In fact, I quite like to find myself thinking about it over the next few weeks, imagining the future lives of the characters.

    If a series is planned do you like cliffhangers or prefer each book to be rounded off?
    Hate, hate, hate, hate, HATE cliffhangers. Feels manipulative, cynical and very annoying!

    Where do you read?

    E or paper or both?

    Binger or snacker? (i.e. Do you prefer to read books as quickly as possible, sometimes in one go or one chapter at a time, making the ‘flavour last’)
    Depends on the book. If it’s story-led then as fast as possible, in one sitting, simultaneously cooking, eating and, er, other necessary functions without stopping. If it’s more literary and the language is poetic and elegant and complex, then slowly, thinking about and rereading each paragraph until I’ve really gleaned every ounce of meaning.

    Do you read books more than once? Why? What happens in a repeat reading?
    There are only three books I have ever read more than once – Alice Through the Looking Glass (as a child), The Amber Spyglass and The Name of the Rose. The latter two because they came up for my book group. I do find new aspects but on the whole, I prefer new experiences.

    To you what makes a good book?
    While I’m reading it I’m no longer me. I eat sleep and breathe the world of the book. Real life seems pale and grey and only the emotions and landscape of the book have any resonance. I suffer actual withdrawal when it ends, and go through a process akin to grieving for the characters I will no onger get to spend time with. I cannot imagine ever reading another book, because they could not compare with this powerful experience I have just had. Then after a day or two of course, I do, and the whole thing starts over again!

    I hope this is of interest.

    • I find everybody’s comments and responses really interesting.
      I wonder if you could name a main character that you were disgusted by but in a book you really enjoyed because of it. I think I must usually read books where although the main character is flawed they usually have some likeability.

      Consistency in an ending I agree is important so if there is a ‘twist’ there perhaps needs to be enough clues throughout for a reader to think back or re-read and go ah ha I see now.

      Cliffhangers are pretty divisive. I’m guessing you are ok with internal cliffhangers to keep someone reading but it’s the between books ones that bug you. I think what I’d hope to do is close off things so a book could stand on its own but leave enough leverage for future stories with the same characters if that makes sense.

      I completely understand what you mean about the type of book affecting how fast you read it. I pretty much prefer a story led book and am perhaps less fond of it being more about the writing. I can forgive imperfect writing if I am made to care about the characters and dragged into the world enough.

      I must re-read His Dark Materials – thanks for the reminder. I was given a book today and was told that I didn’t need to return this. I find this a difficult concept because if I read and enjoy a book I want to keep it – in case I want to re-read it one day. I think I’m the opposite and this must be why my to read pile is so big because I keep going back to old books.

      Love the description of what makes a good book – I hear that. I get a bit grumpy afterwards. I did more so enjoy reading The Hunger Games trilogy because I got to read them all together and knew that there was an end point. I’m not very good with waiting in between books.

      Thanks for the insight.

  2. What traits do you look for in a main character?
    Depth. The character must not be a cardboard cut-out, and be compelling enough to carry the story.

    What do you look for in an ending?
    A satisfying resolution. Don’t mind loose ends as long as there’s a reason for them.

    If a series is planned do you like cliffhangers or prefer each book to be rounded off?
    Don’t mind.

    E or paper or both?

    Do you read books more than once? Why? What happens in a repeat reading?
    I must say I’ve never done that, but who knows? I might just do with the right book. 🙂

    To you what makes a good book?
    It keeps you turning the pages long after you should have stopped to go to sleep/work.

    • Another one that doesn’t re-read. My Dad is like this but I just love returning to worlds that have sucked me in the first time. I do think it might be a memory thing. Do you have a particularly good memory out of interest?
      Yup sleep and work really get in the way of reading a good book.

      • I have an OK memory, but I don’t think it’s outstanding. I think because there are so many book I want to read out there, new ones take priority over the ones I’ve read before.

  3. Where do you like a story to start?
    With some sort of action or something intriguing to hook me on the story straight away. As an example, in Divergent it was simply the use of the word “faction” in the first couple of sentences. I was dying to know more.

    What traits do you look for in a main character?
    Hmm, tricky one. I think it’s more interesting (and more realistic come to that) if they have some sort of imperfection, something about them that prevents them from being too good to be true.

    What do you look for in an ending?
    I’m afraid I’m a complete sap and like a happy ending. I can get very attached to characters during books, especially if it’s a series, and can get upset if the character doesn’t get an ending I like. It doesn’t have to be all roses, mind, that wouldn’t be realistic, but they need *something* good in their life at the end of the hell they’ve been through.

    If a series is planned do you like cliffhangers or prefer each book to be rounded off?
    It depends how long there is likely to be between books! The waiting can drive me a little potty, but that’s in the author’s interests as I’ll be snatching the next book up the second it hits the shelves!

    Where do you read?
    In bed, generally, but also at work during lunch hour and whilst using my treadmill.

    E or paper or both?

    Binger or snacker? (i.e. Do you prefer to read books as quickly as possible, sometimes in one go or one chapter at a time, making the ‘flavour last’)
    Definite binger. I only snack if the story hasn’t hooked me.

    Do you read books more than once? Why? What happens in a repeat reading?
    I often read them many many times. I read so quickly if I get hooked, that I can miss details or fail to remember them fully. I also find that if you reread once you know the ending you often appreciate little nuances that the author included that you weren’t able to notice first time around.

    To you what makes a good book?
    That it’s unputdownable, and keeps you guessing as to what is going to happen next.

    • Thanks for commenting – yes flawed characters are definitely more interesting than perfect ones – Tris for example.
      If you only like happy endings you might want to steer clear of Forbidden or we could do what they did with films for Phoebe. I’ll give you a point just before the end of some books to stop reading and I’ll rewrite the end to be a happy one ;o)
      The cliffhanger one is tricky isn’t it – I think in my case because I don’t know whether I will actually be writing the sequels (I hope so) I plan to round up the first book so it could stand alone. I think Insurgent ends on a kind of cliffhanger but not. It still feels like a complete book. I definitely want to read the last one but it has introduced something new rather than stopped mid story if that makes sense.
      I think I’d be liable to fall over if I attempted to read on a treadmill. I have joked in the past about doing the London Marathon whilst reading books though.
      I am a definite binger and find e format makes it easier to do this. I read Insurgent in hard copy and I really think I would have read it faster had it been on my kindle. I find it harder to hold and manipulate real books now. I was forced to snack due to other commitments/feeling unwell and I think it affected my enjoyment negatively. I still loved the book but I wasn’t able to get so swept up with it as I’d like to. I think this is why I keep putting off reading – because I know I can’t read right through. I honestly think I’m a similar way when it comes to writing. The couple of days when I wrote 10-12 thousand words were the most enjoyable for me.
      Yup and yup – agree fully with last two comments.

      • Aye, a Divergent-type Cliffhanger is a good way to go. I was completely hooked & itching to read the next book, but not in a Criminal Minds, we’ve just shot a team member and you’ll have to wait 6 months to see if they make it, aggravating kind of way!

        P.S. This is the boon of the Kindle – only need one hand to hold the Kindle, and the other hand firmly grasps the treadmill handle!

  4. I like my characters to be flawed at the beginning. By the time the book’s finished, I grow along with the character.


  5. It’s even more worrying sometimes with TV shows because they could so easily be cancelled between or part way through series.
    I’m so silly didn’t even put the kindle and treadmill together – clever.

  6. I’ve been trying to think of the books I’ve enjoyed even though I disliked the main character. The first that came to mind was not a book, but the True Blood tv series. Can’t stand Sookie blooming Stackhouse, but quite like the series. Then there’s a Christopher Brookmyre book about a serial killer called Simon Harcourt (the title escapes me), and he’s thoroughly horrible. Finally, there’s the narrator of Notes on a Scandal, although shes more pitiable than obnoxious. And I adore Iago from Othello even though he’s so manipulative. I’m sure there have been others, but they escape me now.

    • I must add Notes on a Scandal to the to read/to watch pile. I know hat you mean about Sookie – I have a few of the books (currently unread) and wonder if she comes across quite so whiny in them. Thanks for this.

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