Tuesday, April 3, 2012

It's the STORY, Stupid!


I haven’t had much time for reading lately, but I try to dip my toe into the proverbial TBR pile once a week even if it means listening to an audible book or library CD to refresh my stale creativity.
This week between customers, I was listening to Dead Girls Don’t Live Forever by Molly Harper.
Ms. Harper is the queen of double entendre. With her first person narrative you get a real sense of the heroine’s character. The never-ending stream of witty dialogue intrigued me as I discovered I didn’t grow tired of the book and put it down unfinished.
I started looking at it in depth to determine her secret. She is a former reporter so she has the journalism skills but in fiction, so many books that start out strong, especially ones that rely on humor, begin to limp before the halfway point. That’s when I find myself putting them down.
This book was different. What I discovered was that this writer is an exceptional plotter. I’ll use the word effortless because I can imagine being in a brainstorming session with her where she just runs non-stop with plot ideas.
I thought of my own issues when I get stalled in dialogue – not so much a matter of how characters will react but what has happened to cause the reaction. In Dead Girls Don’t Live Forever plot threads are no problem. Molly Harper has a seemingly endless supply of quirky events and family drama that keep the characters interacting, page after page, with no let-up.
So again, I return to my theory that “It’s the story, stupid.” Ms. Harper’s writing is top notch, but how often have you read a book where you had to know the ending even though the writing wasn’t that good? It keeps you going. I highly recommend her books.
But I’m wondering, what keeps you reading? Is it humor? Plot? Emotion? Lyrical description? Witty dialogue?
Livia
Contact Livia on Twitter @LiviaQuinn
or visit her website/blog

11 comments:

  1. Sounds like a good one. I love to discover new authors who do humor well. I'll have to give it a try.

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  2. It was especially enjoyable on Audible, Lori. The narrator did a wonderful job.

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  3. I'm usually hooked by the plot, but scintillating dialogue helps. Alot! :)

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    1. A agree, Cadence. I love great dialogue. It makes the book read fast.

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  4. I keep reading if I can't predict the next plot point. I remember being enthralled with a book years ago because every time I predicted something, IT WOULDN'T HAPPEN. A silly thing, but I've picked up that author's books since.

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    1. Good point, Eilis. You just have to know what's going to happen next. I almost called this, It's the Plot stupid, lol. I'm fascinated by great plotters, like my CP.

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  5. It is a really good story that draws me in and makes me feel part of it. That keeps me reading and when I flounder I go to my guilty pleasure authors to give me a pick me up, they are Stormy Glenn and Lynn Hagen.

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    1. For me it's usually the story, along with a really dynamic hero. But like you, I have a few I can drop back to from my keeper shelf. I'm re-reading all of Grace Burrowes books right now.

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  6. Sometimes it's hard to say what keeps me reading. Certainly good writing will keep me reading, even if the story is predictable. And I say that because recently I've read a rash of so-called best sellers that were so poorly written they made me want to cry. If the author has a great voice that will keep me reading. I'm not quite as picky about plot points unless I'm reading a non-romance because let's face it... we all know how those will end. :) Good dialogue is always a plus. That's another thing that makes me want to throw my Kindle across the room - unnatural or stilted dialogue. Don't people LISTEN when others speak? That's really the best way to make your dialogue authentic. Close your mouth and listen to the conversations around you. Oh wait... we don't speak to each other anymore. We text and email. Ah.. there's the problem then. :)

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  7. I've heard about this book, but I've never read it. You make me think I should. Thanks.

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  8. Chiming in late - I enjoy Harper's work! I agree that she manages to combine great dialogue with great plotting.

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