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Readers, It’s Your Turn


Monday
Jul 17, 2017

Readers never get heard. OK, rarely. Writers are told to write to their audience, but who ever asks that audience what kind of books they want to read? Well, I did once before, but I think it’s time to revisit the subject.

So here’s your chance.

  1. What do you most want to see in books you read? Action? Romance? Mystery? Science fiction? Epic fantasy? Dystopian? Super heroes? Something else altogether?
  2. What do you think is overdone?
  3. What makes you want to buy a book? The cover? The book blurb? Amazon reviews? Recommendation from a friend?
  4. What kind of a book would you most likely give to someone as a gift? Fiction? Non-fiction? A “gift book”? A book you love? A book you think they’ll love? A book you’ve heard about in a subject you think they’re interested in?
  5. What bugs you the most when you see it in a story? Characters with insufficient motivation? Cliched actions? Predictable endings? Something else?
  6. What makes you close a book and never come back to it?
  7. What makes you throw a book across the room?

I look forward to reading what readers think! Feel free to answer some or all of the questions. It’s your forum to say what you want to say!

Rebecca LuElla Miller

Best known for her aspirations as an epic fantasy author, Becky has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 2004. She has covered high school sports for a Los Angeles area newspaper group, published articles and short stories in several print and online magazines, and placed in the top twenty-five in the 2006 Writer’s Digest Short, Short Story contest. She currently blogs Monday through Friday at A Christian Worldview of Fiction. Her editing credits include non-fiction and fiction alike, most notably four titles in the Dragons in Our Midst and Oracle of Fire series by Bryan Davis. You can learn more about her editing services and read her weekly writing tips at Rewrite, Reword, Rework.

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22 comments on "Readers, It’s Your Turn"

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Hannah Williams
Member

I like an adventurous fantasy with redemption themes, great humor, intense action.

The heroine who is angsty, self-centered, boy-magnet, and probably secretly a queen comes up waaay too much in stories anymore.

A beautiful cover, intriguing blurb, and content positive review catch my attention.

I give books I love to people in order to spread the fandom.

It’s frustrating to see characters acting out of character in order to accomplish a plot point. The “bad guy just redeemed dies.” Let them liiive and see what happens.

I’ll close a book if the romance is getting too lustful. The personal pov in most books nowadays get VERY personal in romance and I do not wish to be so invasive. I perfer omniscient romances that know when to change the scene.

Sometimes, some authors (especially in the popular secular zone) listen to readers TOO much, and when they do something like suddenly change a character in answer to a politically charged outcry…..I throw the book.

Thanks for the fun questions!

Kat Vinson
Member

“Probably secretly a queen” – right?! It’s amazing how many hidden-away-princesses there are in fiction!

Jonathan Lovelace
Member

1. What I most want to see in any piece of fiction I read is something that’s exactly the same as my favorites in everything that matters and sufficiently different in everything else. (Yes, I know that’s not helpful, so I’ll explain.) I want something that explores the nuances of a world (whether SF, fantasy, or not—I read a lot of Pride & Prejudice fanfiction, and Understood Betsy is one of my favorite books), neither uncovering nor hinting at any inconsistencies either within the world or with the story’s theme or tone. I want to see eucatastrophe, with enough foreshadowing that I don’t get too tempted to give up before then (though I can be content with less happy story structures. I’d really like to see a real and well-done allegory (by which I mean, a compelling “outer” story excellently told by means of an excellently-told “inner” story—and I have only read *one* novel published in the last twenty years that called itself an allegory and fit the form, and it was somewhat poorly done). I want to see formalist poetry reflecting God’s glory with scintillating brilliance.
2. I have a long list of things I think are overdone, every item of which has suddenly flown out of my mind.
3. Because my stack of unread books is already overwhelming, I generally only even look into whether a new-to-me book is one I might like to read someday on the recommendation of a friend whose taste I trust.
4. Most of the books I give as gifts are to my immediate family members, and so I take advantage of the opportunity to give them one I think they may well like that I myself want to read. But outside the circle of our family, I usually give books that I have read and think highly of, and that I think the recipient will enjoy or (for the occasional non-fiction book) benefit from. When the person has a GoodReads account, I compare his or her “to-read” shelf to my “read” shelf. But even if I thought someone would like a book, I won’t give a book I think poorly of.
5. Two things bug me more than almost anything else: The first, and most egregious, is inconsistency, either between points within the story, between implications of points within the story (as in a dear friend’s Revolutionary-era otherwise-compelling alternate history which has a hyper-patriotistic splinter state that still somehow fatalistically accepts paying a tyrant an arbitrary tribute for more than a decade), or between the contents of the story and its tone or theme (as in a novel I really wanted to like that had an exhaustively-researched hard-science medical case at its core but showed a spaceship pilot casually breaking the laws of physics just to illustrate his character). The second (which unfortunately occurs in several of my favorite books, so when rereading I skip ahead to after that part) is when a story’s plot is advanced by the protagonist(s), or other sympathetic characters, doing things that are obviously stupid.
6. The one thing that makes me certain to close a book and never come back to it is what I, borrowing an expression from someone on “the Bujold list,” call “the Eight Deadly Words”: when I realize that “I don’t *care* what happens to these people!” Egregiously bad spelling, grammar, or typographical formatting also do it (but those are rare in even self-published Kindle “books,” so I mainly run into them in fanfiction).
7. I can’t say that I’ve ever thrown a book across a room; if I’ve ever been tempted, it’s been an ebook, and so impossible to do so. Any book that’s not worth reading isn’t worth taking the energy to throw across a room.

Kat Vinson
Member

See, I’ve thrown a book when everything about it was fantastic – and then at the last second something happened that was an utter betrayal of all the time and pages before it.

Brie Donning
Guest

I tend toward fantasy with a good dose of adventure and a little bit of romance. Something unique about the world is almost essential, but magic isn’t. Humour and politics are in. Let this book really say something. And sci-fi works too.

There’s a few too many generic retellings of Jesus’ death and resurrection. They can be done well, but often they aren’t.

I’ll buy a book for a mixture of reasons. Having loved other books by the author is the biggest one. Intriguing description can pull me in. A recommendation might make me interested, but I very much buy books on my own terms. I might have a book on my list for years before getting it.

I give books I love to people I think will love them too. (though I rarely do give books at all because international shipping rates are terrible) And I give non-fiction to my family.

I hate it when kids go behind the back of their parents and it all turns out fine. Rebellion (unless its’ rebellion against an evil king) shouldn’t be rewarded. So it bothers me.

If I don’t like the characters, i won’t finish the story. Arrogant jerks, heroes who are little better than the villains, characters who complain all the time. People who don’t improve. I can stand them if they’re gradually becoming a better person, or have some sympathetic motivation. I can’t stand too much physical romance or even lustful thoughts.

Kat Vinson
Member

“I hate it when kids go behind the back of their parents and it all turns out fine.”

I forgot about that. And the absentee/evil parent trope in general.

Audie Thacker
Member

Maybe it would be easier if I gave an idea of what I’m not looking for in a story.

Pretty much any story about “The One”. As The Matrix showed, this kind of story can work, but it’s still a cliche that’s been very much over-used. And double the distaste if “The One” spends much of the story whining about being “The One” before, five pages from the end, he or she finally decides to fulfill their destiny and beat down the bad guys.

For Christian stories, any story that is essentially a clumsy retelling of biblical story, especially if it’s a clumsy retelling of the life of Christ. And double the distaste if it can’t even get the gospel right, if it’s about someone coming to the god of the story to fulfill their destiny, or this god is used as a force to be manipulated to pull off the big reversal at the end, or if a person is considered good if they’ve changed the world.

Michael Howell
Guest

What do you most want to see in books you read? Action? Romance? Mystery? Science fiction? Epic fantasy? Dystopian? Super heroes? Something else altogether?

A. Something fresh and new but more than that highly. creative

What do you think is overdone?

A. Cheesy Christian themes…pastor fallen from grace…Amish love stories…

What makes you want to buy a book? The cover? The book blurb? Amazon reviews? Recommendation from a friend?

A. Recommendation from a friend who knows what I like.

What kind of a book would you most likely give to someone as a gift? Fiction? Non-fiction? A “gift book”? A book you love? A book you think they’ll love? A book you’ve heard about in a subject you think they’re interested in?

A. “Little White Bird” “Dune”

What bugs you the most when you see it in a story? Characters with insufficient motivation? Cliched actions? Predictable endings? Something else?

A. Any form of predictability…lack of creativity…lack of understanding of faith

What makes you close a book and never come back to it?

A. Boring

What makes you throw a book across the room?

A. I never throw a book across a room. Regardless of how bad it is…

Eve
Guest

I so agree about the Amish love stories!

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