First, this article is for Working Writers WHO WANT TO SUPPORT THEMSELVES BY WRITING.
My Reader Hat: I buy books that sound good, mostly romance (all sub-genres), fantasy (most genres), some mysteries and YA. Less often I download a sample. And I rarely read something NEW when I'm far behind deadline, as I was from November through May. So I've been opening up the purchased-last-year books to find something, particularly a series to read. Not having much luck. As follows:
A book starting with teenage date rape (probably not the heroine but I gave it NO chance). Just. No.
Writer Hat, Note: I HATE opening with a Victim’s Point of View Just To Show Us The Bad Guy Deserves A Hideous Death, which is what I think the writer was going for (but I don’t know because I stopped and moved on to the next book).
A mystery written by a man with a female first person point of view that he gets wrong. Writer Hat, Note: No, women don’t think that…or that…or that. Can you run it by a female that age and that career, please?
A romance written by an urban fantasy writer with a plot conflict that is so cliche, I can't handle it. Writer Hat, Note: Excellent characters, interesting twist, BUT this conflict over Save The Ranch/Sell The Ranch to Developers has been done a zillion times, and I don’t think you’ve read widely enough in romance. KNOW YOUR GENRE.
A couple of first person present point of view books that just aren't good enough with plot and characters to make me forget about first person present. Sorry, you have to work harder for me. Writer Hat, Note: I’m not the only person who finds First Person Present Point Of View a challenge, especially when you write/dialog about a past event and you go into Past Point Of View, then have to yank us back to Present. That also makes it challenging for you, the writer (sort of like Initial Caps of Words, yes I can poke fun at myself and these pronouncements).
A 18th century historical set in England with: “Failure was not an option.” That ripped me straight from the lush setting to the white counters and male scientists of NASA and Apollo 13 and I probably won’t go back. Writer Hat Note, KNOW YOUR HISTORICAL SLANG/ANACHRONISTIC PHRASES.
Reader Hat: An okay book with sort of interesting characters up to the half where I realized the guy I didn't like was the love interest.
Reader Hat: The next book in a mystery series where the heroine gets pregnant. Not for me.
Reader/Writer Hat: Now, the last two are just a matter of personal preference. Nothing that really irritated me into stopping reading. The author did his/her job.
Personal Preference: I know this issue. I've had people say, "I don't like reading about intelligent/talking animals." And I reply "You will never like my work." I accept that.
And no story will please all of the people all of the time.
And I may be a little harsh right now, but the book's gotta hook me, have good characters and plot. I can deal with a slower historical/high fantasy plot, or one that zooms along at light speed. I can deal with ramped up, graphic violence. Off-scene romance, erotic romance, all okay by me. I can suspend a modicum of disbelief.
But, as WORKING writers, we must all be aware of our choices, and what will cause someone to put the book down, for a moment, or forever…and whether that reader will ever buy us again. And, for me, I will never buy the author of the date-rape book again. NOT a good place to start.
I AM a WORKING WRITER, I MUST SUPPORT MYSELF (and two cats) BY MY WRITING, so I DO think about the above when writing, or, more likely, revising.
That said, Reader Hat, I AM up to a very promising YA/paranormal school series. Which, like a marriage of convenience, can pretty much always hook me.
That's my musing on writing today.