1. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Which doorway do you enter through?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by marina, Aug 3, 2009.

    Writer Nancy Pearl says that books appeal to readers because of the story, character, setting, or language. She describes these as "doorways" through which we enter a book, and says some books have more than one doorway.

    So for instance, what's most appealing for those who like Lolita by Nabokov is language. Character development in a book would be most appealing for those who loved Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell or The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen. Harry Potter books are appealing for story; Lord of the Rings and Ender's Game for setting, story, and character, I think. John Grisham's legal thrillers would be all about story.

    Well, so which doorway is most important for you? Looking at the books you love most, the ones on your bookshelf, what would you say it shows about the doorway through which you enter a book? Is it though story, character, setting, or language?
     
  2. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    Story or setting is what gets me past the back cover, character is what gets me past the first chapter. That's why I usually listen to that little voice that says "this sounds stupid, but..." That's usually how you stumble across the absolute best books. The ones that start with character on the back cover usually end up being boring pretentious crap.
     
  3. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I love books for all those reasons. I don't pick one particular quality--I love reading, and I'll read anything.
     
  4. Lydia
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    Lydia Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, for me character is important. I hate reading books with spoiled main-characters. But for the rest, it doesn't really matter to me. It's the whole that counts.
     
  5. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Its all about style for me. A good main character or an interesting plot are fine, but if your writing is flat or dull or entirely unoriginal then I'm not buying. And I don't necessarily mean style like cutting out 90% of the grammar, I mean word choice, structure, pace, detail, language devices....the whole thing.

    So yeah. Make it work, then make it aesthetically pleasing.
     
  6. Agreen
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    Agreen Faceless Man Contributor

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    Both. I've read books for each of those four reasons- for example right now I'm reading one book for its style, and another for its characters and setting (in which setting comprises the world-grounding ideas in which the story is set and not just the place). That said, character is what I try to put at the centre of my own writing, and it would be the one I give slightly more priority to over the other three.

    That being said, my favourite written works are The Divine Comedy, Life is a Dream, The Birth of Tragedy, and the works of Euripides, and I'm not sure that I'd place the appeal of any of them under those four categories- maybe character for Euripides.
     
  7. Mercurial
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    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not even the best style can save a boring plot with boring characters.
    However, even the best ideas can be derailed with awful diction.
    Setting, I would consider, a backburner (or a backdoor?) quality for me. I dont really care where you are as long as it works.

    You've got to have all those doors open. :)
     
  8. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    If I had to pick just one, I would say character. For me, even a not-so-impressive book in other areas can be enjoyable for me if I like the characters.
     
  9. Twisted Inversely
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    Twisted Inversely Senior Member

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    With first person stories character, specifically main, is most important for me because I’m going to have to spend most, if not all, of the novel inside their head and really I don’t want to be spending my time as someone I don’t like. I was going to point out twilight as an example of this, but I think it’s been bashed enough on this site.

    Third, or even second person, story all the way! Crap characters (at least we’re no privy to every though this time) or bad writing might put me off a bit, but if the story is interesting I usually persevere to the end.
     
  10. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    For the characters and story and setting. One of my absolute favorite things is how detailed a world can become if the writer does it right. I think JK Rowling did a fantastic job at this. She created a vivid world with all these small but unique characters. The more detailed the world is, even if its just a small little nugget of info, is just great. Of course I don't want Info Dumps.


    Characters. For the most part I have to like the characters before I can continue reading. I mean if I am going to spend hours reading about a character I do not like its going to feel like a long time. This isn't usually a problem for me though.
     
  11. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    Character: 40%
    Story: 35%
    Language: 20%
    Setting: 4%

    These figures may change +/- 5% depending on the story.

    The remaining 1% is a book with a funny picture of a monkey on the cover. I love books with funny pictures of monkeys on the cover.

    Just kidding. Setting 5%.

    Charlie
     
  12. Afterburner
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    Afterburner Active Member

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    I think it's the story for me. If the book doesn't have an entertaining story, then I can't get into the other aspects of the book.
     

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