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Friday, September 17, 2010

Fiction Friday: What Makes Great Fiction?

Stamp from Caat at DeviantArt
What makes great fiction?

The answer's probably different for each of you.

I know some people are incredibly character driven.  They want a character that arcs and grows; who morphs from something imperfect to something well, slightly better.  I think of books like Living Dead Girl and The Adoration of Jenna Fox as being character-driven stories.  There's not a whole lot that happens plot-wise, but the character development is what draws you in.

Along the same lines, some readers are all about voice.  If you can't relate to the character's voice, you can't relate to the story, plain and simple.  For example, if your character is a total beotch, snot, uber-dork, or some other over-the-top cliche, the book's probably dead on arrival.

Stephanie Meyer caught a lot of crap because her writing wasn't "beautiful" or technically perfect, but the woman can tell a story.  Flowery prose does nothing for me.  And while I do notice passages that are beautifully written (such as in Firelight), as long as the writing isn't crappy, I'm happy.

Then there's plot.  And if you can't tell by now, I'm a plot girl.  I need a relatable main character and decent writing, but the story line has got to get my blood flowing.  If I don't need to turn the page to find out what happens next, I'm not as immersed in the fictional world as I want to be.  And truly, it's only at that point that fiction becomes better than Prozac.  Because reading through a book that you know should be good, but frankly you just wish it was over (Linger) is the antithesis of therapeutic.

What is it for you?  What's the thing that will reel you in every time?

5 comments:

salarsenッ said...

I am such a character driven writer...for that matter--a reader. I can't come up with a main plot without confusing it all with mega subplots that grow my characters internally. Just me. I do think that voice needs to be twined in with the arch of a character--at least for me. I need both. That's why my 2nd novel is so complex and I had such a hard time writing the opening.

BTW, you just summed up the whole Meyer's thing perfectly! Thank you.

Eleven Eleven said...

It's character and theme for me. Characters don't have to change, but they need to feel authentically driven by specific motives and torn by tough choices.

Theme is even bigger, though. I want some Big Idea to peek out from the story. It can't be overt because that ruins all the fun of unearthing it myself, and it needs to be good, something that could start a philosophy debate. I love a good philosophy debate.

LTM said...

you made a little rhyme... I agree w/all--engaging characters are important, but I need a good plot to keep me coming back for more~ :o) <3

Jessie said...

@ELEVEN ELEVEN - very interesting. Since I am a paranormal romance reader by and large, I hadn't thought about philosophical implications. Good food for thought!

Thanks for everyone for weighing in!

Dee (GoodChoiceReading) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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