Thursday, July 21, 2011

What Keeps You Reading?? (and a giveaway!)

Legs up and reading a bookIt's a conversation kind of post day!

What keeps you reading a book?? We all have excuses for what DOESN'T keep us reading. Blah characters, no interest, no hook, poor writing, shoddy novel construction, etc. etc.

But what KEEPS us reading??

→Strong characters

→Riveting plot

→Captivating dialogue



→Investment in the story and the characters

→The writing. The story can be great, but if we don't "get" the writing...

→Drama-- all books have drama!

→Strong showing (but also an ability to tell too)

→A sense of setting

→Strong follow-through. Both in plot and character motivation

And this would just be the TIP of the iceberg. I personally want to keep reading a book if I am INVESTED. I want to like the characters, I want to love the story they are living. I want to fall in love over and over again every time I open the book. I want to avoid my family, chores and responsibilities to submerge myself in the dance and vibrancy of the words across the page.

We can pick a book apart for why we DON'T like it, have you ever tried to pick one apart for why you DID??

Join the conversation today for what keeps you reading!

And all comments will be entered to win MaryLu Tyndall's latest novel, Surrender the Dawn (I must restrict this giveaway to U.S. addresses only please. :-))

Winner announced in the Weekend Edition


Debra E. Marvin said...

It's nice to come to a place where we can admit we read to avoid things! Of course, it's not always like that but certainly for me it's escape.

Much of my book-in-hand (that means the old fashioned way of reading, wink wink) reading is at bedtime. I need to get my mind away from my life and into someone else's.

Your list is pretty strong, Casey, but investment must be the strongest. I have to care what happens and to get to that point I have to enjoy the characters' company. I love a really strong plot and a good mystery to figure out. But in a case like Alexander McCall Smith's whimsical character books, it must be just plain entertainment. Quirky characters and their somewhat silly concerns capture me just as well.

I don't know. Why do some of us submerge our lives in story? Between audio books, kindle, books on my nightstand, movies, my WIP and all the critiques I do, you'd think I'd be story'd out! But no, I browse writer blogs to talk story.

Please put my name in the drawing for MaryLu's book. She's one of my favorites!
debraemarvin (at) yahoooo

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

I am reading this book right now and LOVING it! Wow! Great romantic tension there. I think for me, it has to have just that...romantic tension. I read for the romance, and if there is no spark, no connection, no tension, then I am bored.

lgm52 said...

Reading is my "therapy." Especially when life gets tough or stressful, I delve into a book. But I also read for the enjoyment of it. I read a variety of (mostly) novels. But if a book doesn't capture me from the first chapter, I just go on to the next book in my list...too many books I want to read to struggle with one that doesn't hold my interest!

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Couldn't agree more about being invested.

I also keep reading if I think the book will stay with me somehow, not so much that I'll memorize the characters or everything that happened, but the theme, the pull of the book...I want it to settle inside me.
~ Wendy

Patsy said...

I just got through reading a book this past weekend. Usually I don't read a book very fast because I'm so busy keeping my grandson. However, this one I read in about a day and a half. For me it's the surprise element. Like when you know what's going to happen then something totally different happens and put a whole new twist of the characters life. When something like that happens I find myselt talking to the book! (Same as talking to the TV - it changes nothing!)

Pepper said...

This is GREAT!

Personally, I can't pick just one - but my top three are characters, tension, and dialogue (those things are what makes me become invested in a story)

Unknown said...

I read to escape from the real world. I tell my children when you read it's an adventure of visiting different places and times without leaving the comfort of your home. I want to feel that I'm experiencing everything right along with the character. To forget that it's a book I'm reading, and feel that I've walked into the characters lives is the ultimate experience for me. I'd love to be put in the drawing.


Linnette R Mullin said...

The book can be horribly written, but if the characters and story line grab me, I have to know how it ends... even if it means skim reading most of the book.

Keli Gwyn said...

My top three reasons would be strong characters, investment in the story and characters, and good writing. I worked as an assistant editor, so if there are basic mechanics problems that pull me out of the story, I find that very distracting. When a writer does such a good job with craft, characters, and story that I'm immersed in the fictive experience and can shut off my internal editor, I know I've found a great read.

Beth K. Vogt said...

When I find myself thinking about the characters as if they are real people -- that book is a keeper! I know I'll be buying multiple copies because I'll be loaning out copies to friends.
Also, the plot has to be believable. Yes, I like to be surprised -- a Wow! Didn't see that coming! kind of plot twist -- but it has to be plausible.
I could go on, but this is vacation week for me. Just wanted to jump in on the conversation quickly ...

Casey said...

DEBRA, thank you so much for stopping by to share your thoughts! I loved what you said about ENJOYING the company of the characters. I think that more than anything is so very important. To be willing to INVEST our time in their journey. And yes it is incrediable how much we can keep talking about story and never grow tired of it!

SHERRINDA, wouldn't read a romance any other way. I had a book once (won't name names to protect the innocent), but basically there was NO tension between the hero and heroine. I didn't finish it. We have to feel that sizzle and connection!

Casey said...

LGM, you have hit on a point that so many authors have to take into consideration when they are writing. HOOKING that read in the first few pages. Thanks for sharing with us today!

WENDY, when I read your comment I realized that is a good reason why I read too and the books that stick with me are the stories that had a changing plot in my life and moved me through the characters. Gina Holmes book comes to mind along with Christa Parrish's latest title. Very good point!

Casey said...

PATSY, who doesn't love a good SURPRISE?? I mean seriously, when it comes to good plot, having on that surprises the reader keeps the hooked to those pages!

PEP, yep those are biggies for me too. Love some good dialogue!

Casey said...

CINDY, those are words every writer should take to heart and work hard to emulate. I couldn't agree more. If I want to read, I want to escape. Life has enough troubles of it's own, I want to escape to a world where Happily Ever After is guareenteed. :)

LINNETTE, I've done that too!! Character is so very important to a story that it can make us forgive a multitude of sins.

Casey said...

KELI, since becoming a writer, I've noticed I have less patience for mistakes (ie mainly typos). They don't completely make me stop reading, but it jerks me out of story world which is never a good thing. ;-)

BETH, so glad you could stop by today! Hope you are enjoying that vacation. :) I agree, even for fiction we have to have a plot that is believeable and characters that stick with us!

I had just finished reading a Laura Frantz book (Courting Morrow Little) and we were in the woods cutting firewood shortly after and I thought I saw a flash of red out of the corner of my eye. I spun with her main character on my mind: Red Shirt.

That is a character and a story that did become real. It's the only time I've thought I've seen a character in real life. ;-)

Pepper said...

Oh my, I love Laura Frantz books. Whew. They have a lyrical quality. Just finished reading The Colonel's Dauhter last night in the hospital and it was simply beautiful.

You know, that 'savoring' feeling ,after it's finished.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with what others here have said: I read for enjoyment and as a chance to escape everyday life for another place and time! In order to escape there has to be a strong visual element for me that makes settings and characters come to life.

Marylu Tyndall is a new author to me. I would love the chance to win her book. Thanks!

Faith said...

What keeps me reading is my connection with the character. I want to feel like I have a connection with the character in the first few chapters or am at least sympathizing with or amused by them. Definitely the writing. But I am able to adjust to many writing styles so I try to keep an open mind. BUt if the voice is inconsistant, I find that a bit hard. Action is good. Unpredictability is fabulous!
There's alot more, but that might just fill up a very boring book!
Please enter me

Casey said...

PEP, I'm reading it right now. She is so beautiful in her word smithing!

MARY, (so glad to "run" into you again!) Strong sense of setting is very important. Susan May Warren is an excellent example of that as well as Laura Frantz, but both authors know how to pull back when the characters once again need to take the foreground.

Casey said...

FAYE, all excellent, excellent points! I think almost all of us has hit on this at one point or another in our comments: we have to connect with the character. Otherwise, it's not really worth it.

Pam K. said...

I read for enjoyment and escape. I say "a day without reading is like a day without sunshine." When I'm disappointed that I finish a book (because the characters have become like friends and I want to keep reading about them), I know it's a great book. My favorite books have a mix of witty dialogue, strong characters, at least a bit of romance, a strong faith thread, and a good plot. They are also edited well, without annoying typos.
I'd like to be entered in the book giveaway. Thanks.

Casey said...

PAM, that is a great strong list for what to look for in a good book. I know I have read many books that when I close them I am so disappointed because I am now done. But I am also one of those readers who doesn't mind re-reading, so that is a plus too. :)

Krista Phillips said...

Sherrinda... I echo your comment... slightly ashamedly!

If I read the first few chapters... and the romance is blah, I have a hard time finishing it. That probably sounds awful... but there it is! I LOVE a good romance... (and even a suspense I think can be greatlyhelped by adding a good romance thread in there too!) so yeah... bring on the sparks!

Pepper said...

Sparks? Sounds like you and Sherrinda want a whole lot more than sparks!
Massive explosions of romantic tension, but sparks?

Casey said...

KRISTA, Ronie Kendig does a good job of inserting her romance within the pages of her thrillers. Wow, reading her latest right now and it is good! Love how she really gets into the head of the man. ;-)

PEP, lol (if I might butt in with my loling )

Pepper said...

I can't tease them too loudly, Case.
I put romance in everything I write too (except my middle readers' series)
It drives my 13 year old son crazy. He says, "Mom, romance doesn't have to be in EVERY story!"

I beg to differ

karenk said...

i love all of the postings...

i love the writing...the storyline and characters are important, too.

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Megan said...

I would have to say strong characters are what keep me reading!

Casey, I love reading your blogs.

lovetoread205 [at] gmail [dot] com

Casey said...

PEP, I'm on your side. Though the 13 year old might not like me as much if I loudly proclaim that. ;-)

KAREN, storyline is very important! Without one you have no story. ;-)

MEGAN, couldn't agree more and thank you!! I appreciate knowing that. :)