BY NANCY KAY CLARK
editor/publisher of CommuterLit.
Copyright is held by the author.
I read both fiction and non-fiction, and across genres. Some books I devour in one go; others I read slowly and savour; while still others I struggle with before giving up entirely. I’m not unique in this, but the reasons some books appeal to me and others don’t probably are. Everyone will have their own list of what they love and hate. Here’s my list:
1. Flights of imagination. I love good world building, but too much (you know, those books that come with glossaries of terms, dictionaries of made up dialects, and extensive lists of characters? ) and I’ll pitch the tome across the room. The sweet spot is a narrative that drops me in a fantastical land of weird tech, cultures and languages but somehow communicates it all perfectly clearly without footnotes.
2. Protagonists who take action — even when full of angst. I hate characters who spend the whole book wallowing (and wallowing writers and artists are the worst). Stop talking, and do something practical for God’s sake! Tie your shoelaces before you trip over them! Eat a proper meal! Get up and try! If I lose respect for your characters, you’ve lost me.
3. Intellectual curiosity. I like an authorial voice that is curious and questions the world and its creatures, who draws thematic connections, but please do not veer into the three Ps: preachy, pompous or pontificating.
4. Villains with plausible motivations. You can do better than he’s a villain because, you know, he’s evil.
5. A plot that moves. Please, please, please, use poetic imagery sparingly, and get on with things.
6. Touch me emotionally. Something that makes me laugh out loud or tear up is always a lovely surprise.
7. Do not mess with the archetypes and conventions too much. Tweak and twist by all means, but I’ll stop reading and hate you forever, if you ever kill off a character I’ve just spent five chapters falling in love with. I will never read another book you write (yes, I’m hopelessly unsophisticated that way).
8. Don’t strip me of all hope. If I want to feel depressed, I’ll read the news.