Thursday, April 9, 2009

Questions for Readers

If you consider yourself a reader, what sort of books do you like to read? What makes you, the reader, satisfied with a book. Here's a little questionnaire to help writers write better, just for you!
  • Do you read literary fiction, genre fiction, or both?
  • If you read genre fiction, do you read just one genre or more than one?
  • What are your favorite genres?
  • What do you like and/or dislike in a fictional Hero?
  • What do you like and/or dislike in a fictional heroine?
  • Are there any plots you especially like in a book? Why?
  • Are there any plots you especially dislike in a book? Why?
  • What makes you first pick up a book?
  • What makes you put a book down without finishing it?
Please feel free to post your answers. I'll look forward to hearing from you!

14 comments:

Marion Faith Laird said...

I haven't read as much recent literary fiction as I have the classics. To me, fiction ought to be uplifting, and it's hard to find that among most of the intelligentsia.

I do like genre fiction of many kinds, including sweet romance (inspirational or otherwise), westerns, some fantasy (though not all), inspirational chick lit, mysteries, romantic suspense...

I like a Hero to be dimensional, not cut out of cardboard or pushed around by the writer. I like him to have values that he's willing to stand behind no matter what it costs him. I don't mind if he has flaws if they mature him and help him to grow and change by the end of the novel. Other than that, he can have any profession, as long as it's honorable. That's what counts for me.

In a heroine, I like someone who isn't wishy-washy. She also needs to be three-dimensional. She may want desperately to be a wife and mother, or she may want a career. Whatever her goals or flaws, I like to see her grow through the novel.

I like most plot ideas. I think about the only plots I dislike are the ones that are too predictable. Even though I know that in category romance, the Hero & heroine will end up "Happily Ever After," it's great when there are twists and turns in the plot, so it isn't just like every other romance. It needs to be special. The same goes with mysteries. If the villain is always the least likely suspect, it gets predictable.

I look for books by authors I like. After that, a great title might make me pick up a book. Third to that would be the cover, if it's a paperback.

I will put a book down if it is filled with profanity or obscenity, too much sex, hardcore violence for violence's sake, or if I can't stand the protagonists. I read for enjoyment as well as to learn about human nature, so if a book is too disgusting to me, I won't persevere.

Interesting discussion. I hope you get lots of other comments!

Hope Chastain said...

Interestingly enough, I'm getting a lot more comments on my eharlequin blog...a similar, though different, questionnaire.

Carole said...

Thanks for the chance to give our opinions, Hope.

Do you read literary fiction, genre fiction, or both?
--I'm an avid reader of three basic types: Christian fiction, Christian non-fiction (Christian living category), and traditional murder mysteries.

If you read genre fiction, do you read just one genre or more than one?
--In the traditional mystery category, I mainly read cozy mysteries and police procedurals. In Christian fiction, while I read some chick-lit and mysteries, my favorite is the family/relationship drama, character driven.

What do you like and/or dislike in a fictional Hero?
--I like a hero who is kind, caring, and tender-hearted. Looks don't matter at all.

What do you like and/or dislike in a fictional heroine?
--Same as above. Don't like self-centeredness or a domineering character.

Are there any plots you especially like in a book? Why?
--In mysteries, I like the classic "locked room" plot and also some humor. In Christian fiction, naming some authors I like would probably give you a better idea of my tastes in plots. Some favorites are W. Dale Cramer, Lisa Samson, Karen Kingsbury, Charles Martin, Cindy Martinusen, Roxanne Henke.

Are there any plots you especially dislike in a book? Why?
--I won't read anything paranormal, sci-fi, or with vampires or witchcraft themes.

What makes you first pick up a book?
--In Christian fiction, the covers are beautiful and often make me want to read the back cover or online reviews. This is somewhat true of mysteries also, but I mainly go by author in this genre.

I am attracted to New England settings, so a lighthouse on the cover guarantees that I will look further.

What makes you put a book down without finishing it?
--Doesn't hold my interest after 25 or so pages / Lack of character depth / Explicit sex scenes, more profanity than seems fitting

Hope Chastain said...

Thanks, Carole! Very interesting answers! I appreciate your taking the time to participate! :-)

Michelle Sutton said...

I will answer after each question.

Do you read literary fiction, genre fiction, or both? PREFER GENRE FICTION

If you read genre fiction, do you read just one genre or more than one? MORE THAN ONE.

What are your favorite genres? MY FAVS ARE YA, HISTORICAL, WOMEN'S FICTION AND ROMANCE.

What do you like and/or dislike in a fictional Hero? I LIKE SENSITIVE, YET STRONG. I LIKE LOYALTY EVEN IF THEY ARE EXTREMELY ATTRACTIVE AND OTHER WOMEN WANT THEM. NO SNEAKS, NO LIARS, NO WIMPS.

What do you like and/or dislike in a fictional heroine? I LIKE REALISTIC HEROINES. WOMEN WHO AREN'T ALWAYS SELF-ASSURED. WOMEN WHO EXPERIENCE HEARTACHE AND OFTEN FEEL STUCK IN THEIR SITUATIONS. I LIKE HEALING JOURNEYS. I DISLIKE HEROINES THAT ARE UNREALISTICALLY STRONG OR BRAVE FOR THE TIME PERIOD THEY ARE IN. I ALSO DISLIKE SUPER SNARKY AND RUDE HEROINES WHO HAVE MEAN THOUGHTS ABOUT OTHERS.

Are there any plots you especially like in a book? Why? I LIKE PLOTS WHERE THERE IS SOME ROMANCE AND THE GUY AND GAL WANT TO BE TOGETHER BUT STUFF KEEPS GETTING IN THE WAY OF THEIR HAPPINESS. I LIKE PLOTS WHERE REALISTIC PAIN AND TRAUMA IS REFLECTED AND NOT JUST SURFACE STUFF LIKE BREAKING A NAIL OR SOMEONE BURNED THEM IN THE PAST SO THEY ARE NEVER TRUSTING ANYONE AGAIN. UGH.

Are there any plots you especially dislike in a book? Why? ONES WHERE PEOPLE ARE MEAN OR TOO SELF-ASSURED. PLOTS WHERE THINGS ARE UNREALISTIC AND WHERE THERE ARE CLICHE ISSUES (SEE ABOVE ABOUT THE ISSUE OF BEING HURT IN THE PAST AND REFLECTING ON IT FOR MOST OF THE BOOK. EW.)

What makes you first pick up a book? COVER AND AUTHOR'S NAME.

What makes you put a book down without finishing it? BORING OR STUPID, CLICHE'D OR UNLIKEABLE CHARACTERS. I WILL TOSS A BOOK AT THE WALL IF SOMETHING IS TOO FAR FETCHED OR IF IN THE END SOME IMPORTANT THINGS ARE LEFT UNRESOLVED. THAT ESPECIALLY TORQUES ME OFF. I DON'T WANT TO FEEL MANIPULATED AND I DESPISE CONTRIVED TENSION. I ALSO ENJOY CHARACTERS WHO AREN'T PERFECT. GIVE ME A GAG-ME-WITH-A-SPOON FAKE CHRISTIAN HEROINE AND I'LL HURL IN MORE WAYS THAT ONE.

Michelle Sutton said...

I meant in more ways THAN one.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Hope,
I mostly read genre fiction but also read some popular literary stuff like The Secret Life of Bees or Peace Like a River.
I read mostly in the romance genre, mostly historical romance.
I like a hero who is heroic but realistic. I dislike crude or rude heroes. I like spunky heroine, but I dislike heroines who are rude to the hero for no good reason. I like any plot that is really romantic with quite a bit of internal angst on the parts of the H/H.
I especially dislike plots that are not believable and seem too convenient or coincidental.
A pretty cover or an intriguing premise makes me pick up a book. I will not finish a book if too many horrible things keep happening to the poor hero or heroine, or if the plot is too stupid and unbelievable.
Hope that helps!

Martha A. said...

I read all types of fiction except for fantasy pretty much. my favorite genres would be Historical, inspirational chick lit and mystery...I also like old books.

In a fictional hero- I hate it when they are perfect and not like real men. Yes, everyone would love someone tall, dark and handsome who loves God and is a great and gentle leader in the family who never makes mistakes, but how often do you meet them? I would rather they make mistakes we know all humans make and learn how to deal with them as then we can all learn with them.
Same for a female heroine. I want them to be realistic, romance is nice, but being sweet the whole book is not good....

I really dislike when an author switches historical times to fit his or her view of what should have been. For example, when an heroine wears pants back in a time where it would have been so shameful they would not have been able to show their face in public, and in the book it acted like it is normal as no woman could do the activities in a dress that they had to do. Stick to history in a historical novel. Check and make sure you did not miss any major wars going on at that time....

I usually pick up a book because I read reviews and it sounded good.
I put books down when they are in the first person alot of times as they tend to be hard for me to read. Also, not giving enough info soon enough, dragging out the secrets in the book for the whole book...a bit of secrets is fine, but not too much so you never get answers. Have a purpose in the story...if I feel like there is no purpose and it is not going anywhere, I put it down. Too cliche....if the characters are Christians and sin is ignored, like lusting after another mans wife etc.

I love a good story where you put it down and you realize you just read the whole thing and you get a sweet warm feeling inside! Or you feel like you miss the characters because you have gotten to know them so well, and you remember them years later! The Zion Chronicles were like that for me. I still remember the story so well and the people as they are my old friends!

Hope Chastain said...

Thank you so much! These answers are great! I really appreciate your input! :-)

Ausjenny said...

Do you read literary fiction, genre fiction, or both? honestly not sure what Literary fiction is. I like different Genre fiction.
If you read genre fiction, do you read just one genre or more than one? I read many different types.
What are your favorite genres? Historical, contemporary, cozy mystery, western.
What do you like and/or dislike in a fictional Hero? someone real with some doubts about things himself. Not a perfect person. I like to see the vunerable side of the hero and see growth.
What do you like and/or dislike in a fictional heroine? I like a heroine who has flaws but isn't a pushover. Who can hold her own to a degree but still needs help at times. I dont like weak heroines who cant do anything without a man. Also selfcentred ones unless they change by the end.
Are there any plots you especially like in a book? Why? I like Historical cos I love learning about the differnet eras. I also like the strong women of the west.

Are there any plots you especially dislike in a book? Why? I would agree about predictiable plots where you know what will happen from the beginning. I like surprise.
What makes you first pick up a book? Often the cover then I will read the back cover.
What makes you put a book down without finishing it? I only read Christian fiction so if there was any swearing i wouldn't read it.
but the ones i haven't read haven't held my attention or I cant get into them. The plots have been to complicated and on one occasion the plot was to close to what was happening here in my life and I really couldn't deal with it.
one other I just couldn't understand the plot.

Patti Lacy said...

Oh, all kinds of books are my friends! Literary fiction pulls me in because I love to read someone whose words are put together in a unique way. Christian women's fiction, my genre, is probably my favorite, though I enjoy good writing from EVERY genre!

Big-idea heroes and heroines grab my heart and won't let go. Quirky characters keep me turning the pages!

Plot is important to me, but I guess I'm more character-driven. I LOVE people with loads of problems who allow God to start solving them. It's fun when authors frame their book around scripture but it's not too obvious.

Thanks for the WONDERFUL question! I can't wait to read your next baby! Hope this gives you some ideas.

Patti

Anonymous said...

Do you read literary fiction, genre fiction, or both? BOTH
If you read genre fiction, do you read just one genre or more than one? SEVERAL WITH THE EXCEPTIONS OF HORROR NOVELS AND SCI-FI
What are your favorite genres? CONTEMPARY FICTION AND HISTORICAL FICTION
What do you like and/or dislike in a fictional Hero? TRUTHFUL QUALITIES...HUMANNESS
What do you like and/or dislike in a fictional heroine? SAME
Are there any plots you especially like in a book? Why? NOT REALLY..I LOVE BEING SURPRISED BY PLOTS

Are there any plots you especially dislike in a book? Why? TOO ROMANTC
What makes you first pick up a book? THE COVER
What makes you put a book down without finishing it? LOUSY PLOTLINES, UNBELIEVABLE CHARACTERS AND BORING STORY

Gayla Collins

Hope Chastain said...

Thank you all so much! This is giving me lots of great ideas! I just finished Chapter One of my newest work in progress, and I'm keeping the strong characters in mind. :-) No swearing, I promise!

ladystorm said...

Besides the literary classics I don't really read literary books I read genre books. I like a wide variety of genres, suspense/thrillers, romance, crime/legal thrillers, some chit lit, and even fewer fantasy.

I like for my heros and heroines to have depth and character. I need to feel that they are real, that way you really can feel with the characters when the laugh you laugh when they cry you want to cry. I hate heros that are to macho and cocky and I don't like heroines who are whimpy or to bull headed.

I usually read people I know, but since I do a lot of reviewing I am enjoying getting to know authors that I don't know. Usually the cover gets me interested but the back cover blurp is what makes me decide to read it or not.