I need a different kind of help—the kind of help only readers can give.
I mean, how many 9-5er’s get to visit the FBI academy at Quantico or talk to crime scene experts about the “best” way to kill someone and get away with it?
And no beepers, trauma alerts, or 3am calls to deal with—for the first time in 17 years, I’m finally getting some sleep!
But there is one thing about being a writer that I’m not too happy about. It’s ruined me as a reader!
All my life I’ve been a voracious reader, following my favorite authors blissfully into the worlds they created for me. But now that I’m a writer and know the “tricks of the trade” I no longer travel blindly into these fictional realms.
Instead, I now proceed with eyes wide open, taking note of what works and what doesn’t. I dissect technique, scavenge evocative word choices, flag areas where the pace lags or the characters feel contrived.
I no longer can accept that a character does something “too stupid to live”—like going down into the basement when the lights are out and there’s a serial killer on the loose—unless they have a darn good reason to do so—something more than simply the author needing another action scene. Romances where the only reason the hero and heroine remain apart is because they don’t stop sniping long enough to actually talk about their problems smack of melodrama. And thrillers where the main goal is simply racking up a body count rather than changing or saving the hero’s world seem lackluster.
Yikes!!! Now instead of reading 3-5 books a week, I find myself starting 8-10, quickly casting most aside within a few pages, setting the rest down and never feeling compelled to pick them up again.
I long for the days when I would pick up any book in any genre and devour it like candy. Now I’m left with an often fruitless search for literary sustenance.
But then I’ll find that jewel—that precious gem of a story that draws me in, introduces me to characters I not only understand but care about, makes me feel that saving their world is as important as anything going on in my own.
You know what books I’m talking about—those keep me up all night books. Suddenly they seem harder to find than ever, but once I find one I savor the experience, reading much slower than my usual headlong rush, trying to prolong my enjoyment as much as possible.
So help a poor starving reader/writer out here! What books have you read lately that gave you more than entertainment, that were fresh and different, able to transport you to another world that you were reluctant to leave? Which characters have you fallen in love with lately and why?
I’d love to hear about the books that moved you—and what made them stand out from all the other ones out there.
Thanks for helping this hungry reader!