I wanted to write out some of my thought process for choosing or rejecting fiction (it IS important to be able to know when you are wasting your time and brain; this blogger mentions her 40 page rule, I prefer a different way) and some questions to help me analyze the books (my review ability could use some improvement). Now, I’m more intuitive than clearly analytical in my thoughts, so I don’t think in this organized way, but I wanted to formulate a neat set of questions drawn from my thoughts on how to choose good fiction. I’m trying to utilize my reading notebook more effectively, so I wrote the questions and prompts in there.
- Is the quality of the prose high?
- Is the quality of the story high? Is it interesting?
- Is the tone forced? Is the action manufactured? Is the drama manufactured? Does the emotion feel genuine? Try to pin point the “why” of your answers.
- Is the immorality, language, violence, etc. gratuitous or cheaply shocking? What is the proportion of bad to good? What is the tone toward these issues? Is it sympathetic? Indifferent/amoral/blasé? Hostile? Are the issues implied/subtly handled or graphic and explicit? Are they excessive/essential to the story? Can you cut/cover them and have a good story?
- Describe the plot, the situations, the characters, the moments. What do you like? What is the feeling and tone of the story? How do you know this?
Now for some bookish links.
Some literary holidays. I’ve filled my calendar with many of these, and I will probably have some posts on this.
A conversation between two of my favorite authors, Jeanne Birdsall and N.D. Wilson. Some really great words here, on the importance of beautiful prose (YES, YES, YES! The lack of this is a/the significant reason I despise much of modern grown-up novels), on depth in characterization, on deep treatment of themes, on magic and Americana (Natalie Lloyd does this too; I LOVE this). This is just an awesome discussion, can they have an online bookclub?!!!!!! Or podcast (I’m not into podcasts, but this would be one that I would WANT).
Improve your vocabulary. I was putting a list like this into an Excel file and realized I might have the opposite issue for some of these words; I use the big words when I’m frustrated and so they are exaggerated and not accurate. I added these words to the other list I found, some of them repeated or had different suggestions, and I’m not sure I agree with all of the choices.
These quotes can apply to reading as well (sometimes the mainstream “reader” community seriously annoys me and reading merely as a hobby and only reading fiction is one pet peeve).