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  1. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Reading to Care

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by MilesTro, Jun 20, 2013.

    Most advices, which I think beginning writers get, are they need to make the readers care to read their books. But I think a good question that beginning writers should ask is what do readers care about. If they know that, then it can help them improve their stories. For example, I care about characters who can kick ass and are smart. How about you. What do you care about to read a book?
     
  2. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    You don't need to make them care about the character. You need to make them care about what's happening to the character.
     
  3. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't completely agree with this. If they don't care about the character, they won't care what is happening to him. Unless there is another character in whom they are invested, and the very interesting plot requires some act to happen to some minor character. But as far as the main character, they do have to care to some extent.
     
  4. Mithrandir
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    Mithrandir Contributing Member

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    Miles, I'm feeling a bit of deja vu here. This is essentially the same topic you have brought up several times in the past, and I'll tell you the same thing: If you don't like character-driven stories, don't write them. Write awesome adventure stories about bad ass people. It's your story. But you won't get people to admit that character driven fiction and action driven fiction are at the same level.

    I like characters I can understand. Especially bad-ass characters I understand. That moment when Barristan the Brave storms out the Red Keep is priceless. It is even better because I know Barristan. His character was established -- not lengthily, but effectively, elegantly.
     
  5. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    This thread is not an argument about characters. It is about what readers care about in any fiction by their own opinions.
     
  6. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    I'm still not sure as to what a "character-driven" story means. Is it a story where there are characters? Because if so, almost every single story has them. Or am I totally wrong and it means something like "the plot is less important"? Just curious, because I think every story is character-driven; without them, almost nothing would happen.
     
  7. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I regard "character-driven" stories as stories where nothing much really happens. For example, Confessions of Edward is all about this guy's life, how he hates this other guy, and his acting career. Seriously, NOTHING happens, and it's some 300 pages long. It was interesting and I read the whole thing. The emphasis is decidedly on the character and his development, rather than a series of events.

    But say, Lee Child's Jack Reacher series - that's not a character-driven story. We rarely get very deep into Reacher, and even less so in anyone else. The writing is focused on action, on technical details of the fights and military, and on how Reacher beats everyone around him and is The Guy. There's not much emotional depth, in all honesty, but it is a fun and easy read. I have read almost every book in the Reacher series - I think Lee Child's getting worse...

    Anyway, as to the OP - I disagree. The whole objection of "I don't care about XYZ" is an excuse, it's only a symptom of a bigger problem, and not the problem itself. If you have one paragraph to hook the reader before he puts your book down (and more often, only one sentence, two max) - that's simply not enough time to make them actually CARE, not the way the word implies. As a reader, by picking up the book, you show that you're interested, and you should be patient enough to find out a little info before dumping the book.

    What's wrong is something about the writing itself - a far more subtle problem that even amongst writers it's hard to articulate what exactly the problem is. Two writers can start the book with exactly the same things happening, same setting, same character, same lines of thought, but written differently, one book would hook the reader and the other would not. "I don't care" is simply an excuse because we don't know what else to say, we can't pinpoint the problem, we just know we're bored and don't want to read anymore.

    In terms of openings, I think to speak in terms of being "interested" is far more helpful. What could make it more interesting? Because in the opening, that's all you have. Nobody can truly "care" after just one page. What you need is to spark the reader's curiosity.
     
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  8. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    It means that there is more of a focus on the characters. The driving motivation is to find out more about the characters and to find the character himself memorable. An example is Catcher in the Rye -- everyone remembers Holden. Not much really happens plot-wise, but you're learning about him and his world.

    The examples that I think of most often when thinking of "plot-driven" stories are usually some sort of mystery novel -- the point is to find out what, specifically, happened. In The DaVinci Code, no one really knows very much about Professor Langdon. The focus is on discovering all the cryptic clues and solving the murder, and finding out about the secret societies, etc.

    This is not to say that both are not important. Steig Larsson did a great job with the underlying mystery in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but he still created a particularly memorable character in Lisbeth Salander. I didn't feel that I knew a whole lot about Mikael, although we receive a fair amount of information about him. I'd say his books are good examples of plot-driven novels that still pay good attention to the characters.
     
  9. Mithrandir
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    Mithrandir Contributing Member

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    This relates to an old discussion I had with Miles. It is the difference between the characters in Halo and the characters in Dune. But I see that Mckk and Liz have clarified the term nicely for me.
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I don't agree with this. It is probably a good idea, as a general rule, but not as an absolute one. For an example, read Ian Graham's book Monument. It's a good book, and the main character presents nothing to the reader to make the reader care about him. Quite the opposite, in fact.
     
  11. rhduke
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    rhduke Contributing Member Reviewer

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    I want some interesting characters. I also like reading humour. Basically any book that does those two things well and butchers everything else, like the plot, I can still enjoy. What I don't care about are exposition and events that have no emotional value because they only exist to progress the plot.

    But to be more general, making the reader care for something, whether it's a character or floral description of a mountain, is about bringing forth an emotional response. That mountain might be the base of operations for a secret government agency, but I couldn't care less if you don't give me a sense of fear, spite or intrigue.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I really have to say something about this sentence. There is more that needs pointing out, but I will limit myself to one flaw.

    Advice has no plural. It is uncountable. There is advice, and there is more advice.

    So I give you less advice than I might.
     
  13. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    I don't disagree, but I must ask: when do you use the word "monies" in a sentence? Surely, as you said about "advice", money as a word is uncountable. When must you use the plural? :)
     
  14. nastyjman
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    Not sure with that advice. There are stories where you could care less about the character, but you keep reading because you want to witness and experience the train wreck that's about to happen.

    I'd say read for the emotional experience. That's the reason why I read. I love the experience that I undergo when I empathize with the characters in the story, even if they're a wreck, evil, or doomed. The audience (the reader) wants an experience. And, as a writer, you are to serve that with some suspense, tension and, last but not least, drama.
     
  15. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't think of any instance when the word "monies" would be necessary. Why wouldn't you always use "money?" If you're talking about different currencies, then use the word "currencies."
     
  16. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    What also makes me care is solving the mystery in a story. I read a book, Zoo by James Patterson, to find out what is making animals kill people and why. There isn't a lot of characterization in the story, but the suspense is a thrill. I agree that emotional experience is what hooks the readers.
     
  17. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Exactly right.
     
  18. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I care about a clean visualization of place and person from the get-go. I need to feel investment from the the writer in what they are portraying. When I get into the read and it's very this is here and that is there and this guy this'd and that guy that'd... I'm done. The book goes back on the shelf. No sale is made.
     
  19. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Me too. I also don't like books with too much descriptions. I only care about little details that are enough to help me visualize the setting. Sometimes I imagine it myself.
     
  20. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yep, that's me, too.

    I'm not saying this view is 'right' or 'wrong,' I'm just saying that's what I like. Probably why I'm not a fan of 'mysteries.' I really don't care whodunnit, as a puzzle-solving exercise. But LOTS of people do, and power to their writers' arms!

    It's important for all of us to accept that there is no one 'right' way to read—or write.
     
  21. Thomas Kitchen
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    Well the word does exist, at least: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/monies
     
  22. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Okay, I pretty much understand this now. Whatever readers like, it is what they care about in different stories. And I'm sticking to my guns.
     
  23. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I disagree with the Reacher comment. We know: he's a former military police officer, that he was part of special unit, that he has a strong sense of right and wrong, doesn't like to get involved unless someone involves him, has two scars now (one from Beirut and the other from 61 hours). We also know he doesn't want to be tied down to one place, so he hitchhikes or rides a bus everywhere. The reader, if they've read the entire series, knows his brother was in the secret service and was killed. Furthermore, he's not adverse to killing an adversary. I almost forgot that folks know he's 6'5 300+ pounds and an experienced brawler.

    While it's not a "complete" picture of a character, it's enough for people to know who he is. Not every writer feels they need to spoon feed every piece of information about their characters. I, for one, am in the school of thought.
     
  24. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Monies can refer to a range of currencies, such as all the monies that were replaced by the Euro.
     
  25. Rexmond
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    Rexmond New Member

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    Character development.

    Do they learn from their mistakes and flaws? Do they become aware of their flaws? Just questions like that which makes you want to read on to discover the answers.
     

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