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Monday, February 25, 2013

What Makes You Want to Throw a Book?


By Samantha Grace

When I started writing five years ago, the unexpected occurred. Books lost their magic for me. I became entrenched in the learning process by reading craft books, taking online classes, and critiquing other writers’ work.

I would pick up a book—even when I really, really wanted to read it— and I couldn’t switch out of critique mode or relax enough to lose myself in a story. There was this constant drive to write or revise my own stories.

Prior to six months ago, there were only two books I can remember sucking me in: Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella and Yours Until Dawn by Teresa Medeiros. I read several other good books, but these were the only ones I can remember not being able to put down.

Well, this past summer I rediscovered the joy of reading. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to learn something I loved all my life wasn’t ruined for me. 

Ra-ra READ!
Still, there were books I started and set aside at the midway point because I lost interest. Others never drew me in at all.

That made me start thinking about what the deal breakers are for me. I think it’s different for everyone. The great thing about books is there’s something for everyone. We don’t all have to like the same things. If we did, the world would be a boring place, wouldn't it?

My 5 Deal Breakers:

1. Too much backstory needed to understand the book. 
I like to be able to jump in at any place in a series and be able to understand that story. I don’t like long passages that tell me what happened in a previous book, and I don’t like when I need that information to know what’s happening in the current book. If I’ve already read the previous book, I’m annoyed by the lengthy recap. If I haven’t read it, I’m irritated that I have to wade through the history to get caught up.

2. Mundane dialog. 
You know the old saying if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all? I’d like to tell book characters, “If you have nothing interesting or funny to say, don’t say anything.”

3. A hero that acts like the heroine’s father. 
I can take a little bit of bossiness in historical romance because that’s accurate. I get totally grossed out when the hero is much older than the heroine and treats her like a child. I know age differences were a reality and the heroine was usually younger, but I’m a modern reader with modern attitudes. I want the hero to relate to the heroine as an equal.

4. Illogical plots. 
It drives me bonkers when a story doesn’t line up. I especially don’t like when there’s a mystery involved and there are no hints about whodunit. All of a sudden the mystery is solved and the culprit is a two-bit player barely mentioned in the story.

5. A hero and heroine that won’t talk to each other. 
When a misunderstanding or avoidance drives the whole conflict, I roll my eyes and set the book aside. I don’t mind if that’s one element to the conflict as long as it isn’t the only issue. Some problems are complicated and can’t be solved with a conversation, or there may be compelling reasons to keep a secret, but if there isn’t, I’m finished with the book.

What are your deal breakers when reading a book?

  

24 comments:

  1. To go along with the hero acting like the heroine's father, I also don't care for naggy, hands-on-hips, finger-shaking heroines who want to change the hero.

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    1. LOL. Yeah, the magic is just gone when Mom or Dad gets brought into the story.

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  2. I can't stand it when the characters just react to whatever is taking place around them. I want them to be engaged and take action, even if the action they take is the wrong thing to do and causes them more problems. Because that's real. We do things all the time that screw everything up, and just cause ourselves bigger headaches than we already had.

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    1. I agree. I like to be in their heads and understanding what they're doing, even if I don't agree with their decisions. Drama makes for an interesting story. :)

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  3. I hate when there are more than one story going on at the same time and it takes away from the main story. You start with one hero and heroine and then the next chapter tells you about someone else. too confusing

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    1. Rhonda,
      I think you'd have a lot of people agree with you. :)

      I get confused when there are too many characters, even if the book doesn't go into their stories. I was reading a book recently that named fifteen characters in one chapter! I couldn't keep anyone straight.

      Thanks for stopping by today. It's great to see you!

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  4. You know, I don't know if I have deal breakers. I could say what I disliked in a particular book, but that doesn't mean another author couldn't take the same concept and make it okay for me.

    Oh, wait...there is one deal breaker. Sexual violence. I won't name names, of course, but there's a particular author whose debut was basically about an obsessed lover who basically r-a-p-e-s the heroine. Um, no thanks. That just doesn't spell romance for me. I gave up on that one about 6 chapters in, after reading reviews that said it didn't get any better.

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    1. Ugh. I agree 100%, Jerrica. I couldn't finish a very popular novel (not a romance) bc of the violence. It made me sick to my stomach. This is why I try to stick to romance now. I don't want to read something that's going to upset me. There's enough in the real world to do that without me seeking it out.

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    2. I'm with Jerrica on both counts. No deal breakers since it really comes down to the author's skill at making me love a story or not. BUT sexual violence brings me to a SCREECHING halt, and that book will go in the garbage.

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  5. I'm with Jerrica on this. For me it's not so much about deal breakers vs. liking or not liking what the author does with his/her story. Things like obvious anachronisms can pull me out of an historical, but I mean obvious like a plane flying overhead before the Wright Brothers type of thing. ;)

    The fastest thing to make me close a book (I'd never throw one 'cause, you know, I could break something) is poor writing. If the words don't flow well or seem stilted, I'm not reading it. I don't have time for poor writing. ;)

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    1. I agree that if it feels like work to read a book, I'm setting it aside. Life is too short to be spent reading books I don't like. BTW, I have never thrown a book either. :)

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  6. I think my biggest deal breaker is authors that are OVERLY descriptive. I read a book once where the author spent 4 paragraphs talking about what it felt like to walk barefoot through mud....it drove me bonkers! When that happens, I get really bored and stop paying attention. Needless to say I skimmed through most of that book. If an author spends too much time describing something (or setting up a world) its almost like the author thinks their readers are too stupid to understand or too slow to catch on.

    I personally prefer more character development and interaction and less focus on the little things (like walking through mud) I find I get really sucked into books when I get emotionally attached to the characters and being too long-winded about everything else takes away from all that. I think authors need to find that balance between setting up their world and trusting their readers to be able to come up with the rest

    OH - and I second the sexual violence comment. I was 9 books into a 27 book series and the author began introducing "punishment sex" where the women were "taught lessons" on how to be submissive to their men and I thought it was terrible. I stopped reading the series right there and will never read anything by that author again

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    1. Hillary,
      Like you, I skip over passages of description. A little here or there is one thing, but I'm more interested in the characters too. :)

      And wow. I don't even know to respond to the 'punishment sex'.

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    2. Yeah - it threw me off as well. I read romances for fun, not for stuff like that and there was no way I could finish the series. I was really disappointed because its a really popular series and I was hoping that I'd enjoy it, but I just couldn't get passed the whole teaching-women-to-be-submissive-via-sex thing. Some DOM stuff is okay, but this was crossing the line

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  7. Ack! I have that same problem, Samantha! Once I started writing, I couldn't stop analyzing other books and that really takes the fun out of reading. :( I also agree with Jerrica that what works for one book might kill another. I'm so hard to please! Lol.

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  8. I don't have too many deal breakers. I can pretty much take on anything. Even the books that I had a hard time getting into. I tend to come back to them. However, I do have one. I can't handle abuse. I have a really hard time when a husband beats the crap with of the wife or even hinting around it.

    There was one book I got, because it was free and the cover was pretty, but once I started I just couldn't finish it. Granted I'm pretty sure the husband wasn't going to be around by the end. I just couldn't do it. I had to deleted from my kindle.

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    1. Melody,
      How did I miss you earlier?!? Yeah, abuse is pretty hard to take. As I mentioned to someone else, I had to stop reading a book with abuse in it because it made me queasy.

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  9. I think you nailed the reasons very well.

    At the risk of being a prude, I don’t need to know every little thing in lovemaking. Sometimes, a little left to the imagination can be sexier than having it all spelled out explicitly.

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    1. Connie,
      It has been a loooong day at work. I just read your comment as "a little to the left" works. LOL. I really appreciate when there is emotion involved. If it's a play-by-play love scene, I tend to skip over it. But the same can be said for any action scene. If it's all "he did this/she did that", it can pull me out of a story.

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  10. The last book that made me want to throw it at the wall had a very curvy, okay big girl heroine that *hated* every woman who was skinner than she was. Seriously, every person was a skinny bitch. The hero was hot and after her, but still literally every other woman was a skinny bitch. It was so annoying that I gave up.

    BLERG!



    Sorry, but it ain't empowering to put down other women to make yourself feel better.

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    1. I agree, Marquita. That's really one of my biggest pet peeves in life. I hate when women put each other down. We have enough chips stacked against us sometimes. We don't need to turn against each other.

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  11. Hmm I don't have many deal breakers, Samantha, except for maybe one: I can't stand it when an author has the perfect opportunity for a good action scene and they wuss out by using narrative and telling the reader what happened after the fact. I don't need action through the entire story but if you get to that scene I want you to devote as much time to the action scene as you do the love scene.

    Great blog!

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    1. Agreed! I don't know if it's a deal breaker for me, but I like to see things happen on the page and not be told about it after the fact. :)

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