I have a policy. No bad reviews.
Why? Because I would no more tell a writer their book is flawed, than a new mother her baby is ugly.
And I do not plan to give a bad review today. However, I learned something very important this weekend and I wanted to share it with y’all.
I’m sure, you like myself you have an arsenal of “how to” books on writing. Books on the plotting or writing by the seat of your pants. I’ve been reading a lot about structure and plotting but this weekend I figured out something.
I figured out why some books with no structure, less than perfect grammar, without a plot to play in, is often times loved by readers.
After spending the entire weekend reading a long fiction book, with a lot of 5 star review from Amazon readers. I discovered why some books make it when they are about as structurally sound as a beach house after a hurricane.
This book did not live up to the 5 star hype. About 70% through the book I stopped and wondered why I didn’t care for the book.
- Story? Nope, I’ve read about abuse and survival before. Subject didn’t bother me.
- Missing plot? No good plot thread, could see the reflector stripes leading the way.
- Editing? No problem I could find. Well written.
- Characters? No, they were 3D easy to picture, but…
Then it hit me, it was the characters. The characters were not likable! They were sweet, handsome, loving, scary, nasty pick an adjective but I could not root for either of them much less the MC. I even found it hard to hate the nasty, bad guy. By the time I finished the book I was relieved to reach the end. I had no satisfied feeling, no ah ha moment, no happiness for the MC, just glad the ordeal was over.
So my take-away from all of this is the most important thing in a book or story is:
A character the reader can love or hate!
If we love a character we will forgive a bunch of faults. Just like that crazy on Aunt who ruins the holidays, but God life would be boring as hell without her.
It’s important to give our readers someone to love, or hate. But never, For the Love of God, never give the reader someone to feel ambivalent about.
Make the villain so nasty the reader needs to take a shower, the lover so hot the reader is frustrated, the damsel in distress that the reader cries for her. Tough job. Here are some links to help.
- Top 10 Tips to Create a Lovable Hero and Heroine in Your Story by Samantha Stone
- 20 tips for creating relatable – and lovable – protagonists
- 10 TIPS TO WRITING BOLD, FUN, AND LOVABLE CHARACTERS…DOWN TO THEIR SHOELACES! by Norm Schriever
- Creating Villains People Love to Hate by Lee Masterson
- 25 REASONS I HATE YOUR MAIN CHARACTER by Chuck Wendig
- How to Make Readers Love an Unlikable Character—And Hate a Likable One by K.M. Weiland