Why Readers May Put Down Your Book - Even if They Love It

Why Readers Might Put Down Your Book—Even if They Love It

This week’s video cautions against failing to identify and utilize the part of your book readers will like best.

 

Video Transcript:

I’m going to start off today’s video with a really important question, and that is: What is the best part of your book? I’m not necessarily talking about the best scene; I’m talking about the best piece of your book, the best aspect. It might be a really great character, it might be the interaction between two particular characters, it might be your action scenes, your mastery of suspense, you name it. It could be any number of things, depending on your particular story and your own strengths as an author.

The point of all this is that you are consciously identifying your story’s greatest strength. You’re doing this for two reasons:

1. So you can also identify and work on your weaknesses.

2. So you can make sure you’re doing everything you can to play up that strength. The last thing you want to do is add a really awesome aspect to your story, and then fail to take advantage of it. More to the point, you definitely don’t want to hook readers in with this awesome aspect and impress them and make them fall in love with your story, only to then fail to pay off and give them what they want.

I’m currently reading a fantasy novel that does a great job with the witty repartee between its two main characters. This was the aspect that hooked me from page one. The author’s extremely good at it, it’s entertaining, and it’s fun. But there’s just not enough of it. The author chose to depart from these main characters for long sections of the story, and, not surprisingly, those long sections are the ones in which my attention to the story starts to flag, even to the point of skimming and wanting to put the book down.

This is an important lesson for the rest of us to take note of. We need to identify what parts of the story readers will like best—and which parts they will like least. Then we need to do our best to give them as much as possible of the former, and as little as possible of the latter.

Tell me your opinion: What is the best aspect of your book?

Why Readers May Put Down Your Book - Even if They Love It

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

Comments

  1. The book on my mind is the one I’ll be starting for NaNoWriMo, so I’m not entirely sure what the best aspect is because I haven’t completely created it. Right now my best idea is the way the two seemingly unrelated plots tie together.

  2. I hope that, given your definition of what I have fun with, the best aspect of my stories are the times I focus on the characters over the plot (since I’m about half-and-half character/plot driven). I definitely have fun with the scenes between my heros/heroines. Of course, I also enjoy the scenes where I inflict pain on my characters–whether it’s emotional pain as in a fight between a boyfriend and girlfriend, or whether it’s a scene where the male lead gets beaten to a pulp.

  3. The aspect I like most about my novel, “Embassy,” is the way I’ve blended two types of stories you don’t usually see together these days. The book has a contemporary YA feel to it, down to the types of characters and emotional story line, but it is all set in a science-fiction world with parallel themes represented in planets, characters, expeditions across the galaxy, and even astronomy. I’ve had so much fun developing the world, because it engages the rest of the story in a way that the two can no longer be separated. I think that–above all else–is what will keep readers reading (based on the feedback readers have given me).

    • K.M. Weiland says

      Speculative fiction is all about exploration, and speculative readers love it when authors explore new ground. Sounds like you’ve got a good sense of what’s working for you in this book.

  4. In my opinion, my book’s best aspect is definitely the characters, their relationships with one another, and the interactions that come from those relationships. I love writing their dialog and reactions… they feel so organic!

    • K.M. Weiland says

      That’s a good sign! Dialogue is always one of my favorite things to write. Never know what those characters are going to say next!

  5. Identifying your own strong and weak aspects for a particular story (and in general) is very crucial. I think I have the right to say that all authors sometimes wish they had everything: original and earth shattering premise full of juicy possibilities, dynamic story line, perfectly genuine character development, fluid pacing, beautiful prose and style, you name it.
    But it certainly isn’t possible to have everything. I couldn’t get into The Lord of the Rings, but I can still admire Tolkien’s ability to understand what he wanted to accomplish, and fulfill it the best he could, which would be the world building. I don’t care much about that aspect in fiction compared to others, but those that are into world building love his books.
    Right now, I think my concepts for stories are stronger than any of my writing abilities, but I hope that I will be able to figure out my abilities in time and settle on something.

    • K.M. Weiland says

      The goal in writing is to strengthen our weaknesses. But, you’re right, it’s also crucial to realize that we’ll never be good at *everything*. Identifying our weaknesses helps us understand both what we need to work on – and what we need to avoid.

  6. My favorite parts of my own books are usually when the mc and the love interest connect on a deep level. I go back and try to lengthen that part or add more of them!

    • K.M. Weiland says

      Relationships are always one of my favorite parts of any story. When characters connect with each other and learn things about themselves as a result, I love it.

  7. K. M., your “About” should really have at least one comment in it about how brilliant you are.
    ;o )

    One of my favorite books is Dreamlander, and my favorite thing about that – if I really had to choose a favorite part – would possibly be the relationships between Chris and other characters. Or of course the dialogue. I enjoy reading any part when *talking* is included. ;o ) Another fave part in the book is when Chris is being trained!
    Altogether Dreamlander is a stunningly amazing book… but the author is even better! 😮 D

    God bless, Katie! <3
    ~ Ysa ~

    • K.M. Weiland says

      Awww, you just made my day! It’s always interesting to hear what readers think is the best of part of a book – especially when it lines up with your best part. 😀

  8. We’re working on a non-fiction book that actually features fictional characters. You’ll see when we get it done. Using the characters to actively illustrate the dry, but hard-to-swallow facts, gives the reader a chance to relate externally to drive the message internally. We shall see how it turns out.

  9. Usually it’s dialogue, but I’m having a bit of trouble with my current WiP as it relates to that issue. Since it’s a time travel story (with a vampire who is encountered at each phase along the way) that takes place over 1,000 years travel time, the vamp in questions way of speaking alters according to the time she lives in but the time traveler’s does not.

    This one is a learning curve, I enjoy it, but I’m just surprised that instead the parts where I’m having the most fun is describing the historical scenery and how, because it’s the life of a vampire, what details she chooses as opposed to what a human would have are the ones that I’m having the most fun writing.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Sounds like fun! I love the idea of showing the passage of time via the vampire’s dialect, while maintaining cohesion in the narration through the time traveler’s.

  10. Alex Wilson says

    You mention a book you’re reading where one of the best-maybe THE best parts-is the witty to and fro between the two leads, and how there’s not enough of it. I may know what book you were talking about, as it sounds similar to one I’ve read.

    The book I’m thinking of was part of a series, and as things go on, the author clearly identifies that the witty responses are the best parts, and doubles down on that. I think by the end of the series-which I felt ended really poorly anyway-the author had triple, quadruple, quintupled down even, on this, to the point that EVERY character had the perfect response every single time to whatever was said to them. It got too much.

    I think it’s worth noting that while you should absolutely identify the best part of your book, remember also that it’s still just ONE part of your book, and you shouldn’t let it take over everything.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Dianna Winget explains how to get the reader to feel the emotion you want to evoke; Jami Gold explores the emotional power of putting rhythm in your writing; and K.M. Weiland tells us why readers might put down a book even if they love it. […]

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