It’s the last Friday of the month and you know what that means! It’s ᖇEᗩᗪ ᗩᖇOᑌᑎᗪ TᕼE ᖇᗩIᑎᗷOᗯ time!
٩(θ ‿ θ)۶
This month’s topic is…
As a reader, what’s more important to you, the story itself or the way it’s told?
So many ways to take this question. “The story itself” as in genre preferences? Honestly, I read across many, many genres and subgenres. I might be in a mood for something in particular at one time or another, but mostly, I’ll read just about anything subject-matter-wise. So I’ll take a closer look at the nitty-gritty bits to answer this.
What about things like perspective and tense? Do those affect whether or not I will read or enjoy a book? I have favorite I-will-always-reread-these stories in all three of the usual combos (3rd-person past, 1st-person past, 1st-person present). So I don’t hate any of them…not intrinsically. 3rd-person present is a rare find, but I loved the one I read in recent years and added it to my I-will-reread-this pile.
My strong preference is for either 3rd or 1st person past, with 1st-person present lagging far behind. That said, there are absolutely certain authors who are exceptions to my 1st-person present leeriness (I’m looking at you, Nell Iris), and I will always cheerfully read their lovely stories. At any rate, the tense/perspective won’t keep me from giving it a fair shake while reading the story’s preview before making a decision.
How about books that tell the whole story from one character’s POV rather than from two or more POVs? That doesn’t intrinsically matter to me, either. It totally depends on the story’s needs.
For a romance, as a reader (and writer) I generally like to figure things out at the same time the POV character does. So I guess I could say I’m leery of dual POV if there’s no solid purpose for it. I’m unlikely to take a pass or DNF one I’ve started simply for that, but I prefer to save the other character’s perspective for bonus scenes. It’s probably not a coincidence that my favorites tend to be from a single character’s POV.
British/English vs American? I don’t dislike either, but I do have a soft spot for britishisms in stories. Mostly, I like for the spelling/phrasing to be consistent and in line with the story’s setting and/or characters. The issues would have to be egregious and glaring and probably just the straw that broke the camel’s back for this to factor into a DNF, though.
Some people want all the details in multiple sex scenes. Me? I prefer a more sensual take than detailed descriptions of body parts, and I prefer the scene to be pertinent, otherwise I’m fine with it going off-page. But, this is something that’s easy to skim, so it doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story, and it won’t cause a DNF unless there’s very little story around those scenes.
Regarding characters: I don’t need to absolutely love them, but I need to understand where they’re coming from. If I actively dislike them (in a romance), I’ll give it a toss. Not sure if that falls under “the story itself” or “the way it’s told.”
What about the style and/or quality of the writing itself? Of course, the holy grail is a brilliantly-written, fantastic story, but that’s a rare gem. So if something’s gotta give, what am I willing to give a little on, and what am I less willing to compromise on?
It may or may not be the case among this WebRing’s contributing authors, but I sense that my opinion on this might be an outlier. Or at least that’s the impression I get on social media.
I have opinions, and they’re not always as gentle as I would like them to be. But I need to enjoy the journey as I read through a book or I’ll probably never know about the cool twist or the sweet resolution at the end of it.
Story pacing? Some people like to have every little thing detailed out, but me? I like a tight story. Unless I’m totally in raptures about an author’s writing style, then if there’s too much filler not really forwarding the storyline, I’ll toss it in the DNF pile or, if I’m in a more generous mood, I’ll speed read/skim bits to look for anything that might be important then get back to what’s clearly pertinent to the story.
Yes, I know…what if that scene’s importance simply wasn’t clear at the time but will become critical? Thing is…usually you can tell if something might be foreshadowing or perhaps meant as a red herring, so—*shrugs*—my loss if I get it wrong, I guess.
All in all, I’m more likely to finish a well-written story that, when I get to the end, I think…meh, that story was okay. Not totally exciting, but solid, and I enjoyed the ride. The writing doesn’t even need to be brilliant, just…not bad.
I’m less likely to even finish a story that (IMHO, which likely differs from yours) is poorly done, whether the issue is content editing problems (like an over abundance of the aforementioned filler scenes), line editing (too much telling/filtering rather than showing at the phrasing level), or copy editing (grammar concerns of which I have several pet peeves). The story idea might be absolutely brilliant, but I’ll never know because I won’t make it to the end.
It’s probably a character flaw that I’m so quick to take a pass after reading a preview even if the blurb pulled me in, or toss it into the DNF pile even if it made it past those screening steps. But life is too short to force myself to read something I’m not enjoying.
This is probably why I tend to get in a rut rereading certain authors who rarely let me down. I’m slow to jump on the bandwagon when some book is being hailed from the hilltops as being the best thing ever. I often eventually come around to trying it, though.
Whelp…I did warn you…I have opinions. One of my faves might be someone else’s DNF, and my DNFs might be (often are) someone else’s fave. But, that makes the world go ’round, right?
WEBRING ~ Read Around the Rainbow!
Be sure to flip through the webring to read your favorite authors’ takes on this topic! For your convenience, here are direct links to the other WebRing participants’ posts for this month’s topic: