Summer has been crazy. You might have noticed Kayla and I have been a bit behind on our blog posts and for that we sincerely apologize. We do have some super exciting things coming up including a guest post and a “How To” on writing female characters! While getting these posts edited I was digging through my blog drafts and found this beauty that suffered the pitfalls of the editing spiral. I have rescued it from that dangerous whirlpool just for you all, feel free to applaud.
We’ve posted a lot of writer advice lately, which means it was high time for some fun, and what is more fun than talking about story elements that we love and story elements that we hate and story elements that we shouldn’t love but do. Not sure which is more fun to discuss, so here are my top three loves, hates and guilty pleasures when reading books.
1.) Romance: I love a good romance, where the characters are perfect for each other, when they pine after each other, help each other, rescue each other, and are better because of each other. There is a very fine line here where the romance gets too cheesy, or too unrealistic or just plain desperate, but when it is done right it is amazing and gets me every time.
2.) Fantasy: One of my favorite things about reading and writing is how it gives us all the ability to live lives we never will, or never could, live in the real world. When I read I want to be transported to a storyline that I couldn’t experience outside the pages of a book. Fantasy is the easiest way to do this, so I read a lot of it. But it’s not the only way. There are lots of good realistic fiction and even nonfiction books that can do the same. But the fantastic elements such as dragons and wizards and unicorns are always my favorite.
3.) Humor: I love unexpected humor in a book, those funny characters that brighten up a really serious scene, or books that don’t take themselves too seriously and allow their characters and worlds to be caricatures instead of real people. Fred and George Weasley from Harry Potter, The Martian, and pretty much every book I’ve read by Janet Evanovich are like this. With these books I’m not looking to gain some deeper knowledge about the world, I’m getting a quick and easy read that is an awesome adventure. This is also a good reminder to me as a writer to lighten up a bit. We don’t all have to write the next great American (or any other country) classic. Sometimes we can write purely for entertainment leaving behind all of the rules and just having fun!
1.) Love Triangles: These have not only been overdone, but they have been overdone poorly. Not only are love triangles unrealistic – what person in their right minds spends all of their efforts fighting over a person who can’t properly reciprocate their feelings of devotion – but they kind of make the feminist within me mad. It is almost always a girl in the middle of a love triangle with the males fighting over her like she is property. Newsflash, if you can’t pick one man, then probably neither of them is who you really want to be with and you can find someone better. Cut your losses and move on, you are better than this. Sorry, that got kind of ranty. I have read a few books that had done love triangles in a way I can tolerate, but in most cases I dislike them and have even stopped reading books because I saw a love triangle developing (I also hate these because the plot will revolve around the triangle and a love triangle does not a plot make). I know some people find love triangles romantic and wonderful and that is totally fine, they are just not for me.
2.) Descriptions that Don’t match Actions: This relates to characters in a book and how they are described. I really, really hate when a character is described as being super smart and thoughtful, but then spends the whole book making stupid choices. Or when characters are said to be confident, but then spend the whole book questioning their choices. I understand characters can change, but in the stories I’m talking about there is no progression. They are just described one way and then act another. I recently read this one book, that had this amazing plot and storyline and pretty much every element I love in a book, but the main character was described completely in contrast to how she acted. She was said to be a thoughtful, rational person who had been super sneaky and spent the past five years going full Mulan and posing as a soldier in the king’s army. But then, when her story began she immediately began making rash decisions and stupidly revealing herself as a girl to everyone she met. A character who had successfully lied about who she was for five years would not have made those choices! Grr, inconsistencies.
3.) Suspense Driven Plots- with no suspense: Ok, this is hard to summarize, but I went through a long streak this winter picking books that had this problem. It goes like this, a new boy moves into town he is mysterious and maybe a bit dangerous. The heroine is inexplicably (and I mean inexplicably) drawn to him he pushes her away at first but little by little she chips away at him. The whole time she is aware that something is off with him, he can do things regular people can’t do. And even though she knows he is bad news she continues to pursue him anyway. Then at the very end, when she finally gets a little self-esteem and demands to know what is going on, she discovers that her love interest is a werewolf or vampire or alien or fill in the blank. Now, I am aware this is a story trope, and on the surface it’s not too bad (besides the female character usually being a super obnoxious mary sue). My real hatred of this story is it takes the entire book for the heroine to figure out the male is a mythical character, but if the reader has done so much as look at the cover or, heaven forbid, read the back of the book they already know this. So, the reader is forced to endure endless pages of the female wondering what this male character is when they already know! It is supposed to be suspenseful and dramatic, but when the reader knows they are reading a vampire novel it is just boring and annoying. If the author had done this whole dance in the first three chapters of the book that would be fine, we could move on and enter into an interesting story right away instead of wasting an entire book just setting up the premise that a human and a fantasy being have fallen in love.
1.) Attractive Characters: I have probably been brainwashed by Hollywood, but I really enjoy reading about characters who are attractive. Even if a character is described as less than sexy, in my mind I always picture someone pleasant looking. I don’t love when everyone is described as perfection with super model builds, but I don’t mind when every character in a story is appealing with nice hair and a pretty smile. I know characters are supposed to be flawed, realistic and relatable and all that jazz, but I’m superficial and I like pretty things. Feel free to judge me.
2.) Happy Endings: I am a sap for a happy ending, even in a story that doesn’t need one. I also looove a good epilogue. I don’t want to be left hanging to imagine what happened to the characters after the book ends, I want to know how the author envisioned their happily ever after. I understand when books have sad or even neutral endings and I don’t hate it (unless the author does it literally for no reason besides shock value) and I can even enjoy a tragic ending when it really adds meaning to the story, but I almost always prefer a happy ending.
3.) Sequels, Sagas, and Series: These aren’t really bad things, they are just becoming a new norm, especially in YA fiction, which makes them sort of cliche and of course can get over done. But when authors write a good book, with great characters and keep coming up with different plot elements that work I love love love series. Once I am attached to a character I never want a story to end, and I would pretty much read about those characters mowing their lawns if that’s what the author wrote about.
What about you? What story elements do you love, hate, and hate to love? Tell us about them in the comments below.
Stay Amazing my Friends,