Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Emotive or What?

When out with friends for a chat and catch up, we often talk about the books we have read (or not read as the case may be).  My friends sometimes think I’m a bit ‘nuts’ as I tell them I often don’t finish novels.
I am a person who hates to waste time so I will only carry on reading a book if the writer has caught me up in a story (involved me emotionally). If I am not enjoying a book I will cast it aside and not waste further time on it. It doesn’t even have to be a really bad book for that to happen – it may simply be that it is boring me a bit. I know that sometimes if I continue it will get better but why should I bother when there are so many other juicy books to get stuck into. On the other hand I know people who will persevere with a book – provided it is not that bad! The engine that turns so-so fiction into well-loved and remembered books? Emotion!

When I ask friends what a book is actually about and they cannot remember I know it wasn’t that good. For me the plot has to hang together well and the story must engage some kind of strong emotion in me. Whether that is horror, happiness, sadness or sorrow, an emotion of some kind must be there. When I think back to books I read as a child/young woman I find it is the emotion I remember most clearly about the story.  

I generally judge a good book by how well I can remember it weeks later. If it truly stays with me, I know it was a great book. One such novel in recent months was “The Incredible Pilgrimage of Harold Fry”. That book almost brought me to tears at the end and I can remember most of it even though I read it a while ago! Whereas the one I read last week was fairly good but I can’t remember it without a prompt!

 Do certain stories have a big impact for you?


  1. No, I don't spend further time reading books I don't enjoy either. Life's too short! And it definitely needs a strong emotional hook, but that's something that can't be taught, except to make sure you have relatable characters?

  2. I'm not as bad as you in putting a book aside, but since I started writing I started putting the books aside. As a writer, I know sometimes the momentum has to build up and the rest of the book is awesome. I don't want to miss that awesomeness. But I find myself disappointed in more books than enjoying them because I'm critical of the writing.

  3. Can usually tell from the first page if the book will have an impact, Pat, that is why I spend hours and hours improving the first paragraph of my children's books.

  4. Ditto! There are too many books and not enough time, and time is truly precious. especially as most writers I know have to split reading and writing time...

  5. I recently abandoned a book that was loaded with emotion. Unfortunately, the author failed to get on with the plot, choosing instead to flit between past and present, a technique that can increase pace but in this case made things progress at a snail's pace.

    You can't make a cake with only one ingredient.

  6. You are soo right. It is a combination of ingredients but if one key thing is missing it ruins the whole thing. Many thanks for the comments.