Day 5: Reading Criteria

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I took a lot of photos this year, but this is one of my favorites for a variety of reasons.  It is the perfect backdrop to explain what makes me read a book verses putting it aside and moving on to another.  Much like trees in winter, it takes a lifetime of reading to come up with the buds of new growth that make you continue to read something as opposed to reading anything just for the sake of reading.

First up on my list, please use grammar correctly.  It is such a little thing and it isn’t something I should have to ask but the number of book I try to read that have crappy grammar makes my head spin.  If you are a writer and an editor and you fail to grasp then concept of grammar, then why are you in that profession.  Comma’s are not the enemy and neither are periods.

Second, the use of foul language is completely unnecessary and if you cannot express your point without resorting to cuss words then I don’t have the time and energy to read your book.  I don’t understand the utter lack of civility in speech and I certain don’t tolerate it when I’m reading.  Sure, I swear the occasional swear I’m far from perfect but only in private and I always apologize immediately thereafter.  My husband cusses much more freely, although he has toned it down in the years we’ve been married, and it drives me batty.  I fell in love with him, not his potty mouth, but since I’m not in love with you the potty-mouthed author, your book I’m setting aside and giving horrible reviews in public.

If your victim dies before the characters are developed or the setting of the book is firmly established, then you are guilty of violating my third reading criteria.  I read a lot of mysteries and nothing annoys me more than when there is a dead body within the first chapter of the book.  I don’t know who your characters are, I don’t know the setting, and yet you are asking me to believe they just happened to stumble across a dead body? Nope, sorry every time that happens I get so annoyed I move on to another book.  Why waste my time on something that can’t bother to introduce me to characters and places before there is a dead body sprawled across the pages?

Lastly, poor setting of the stage will kill the best storytelling.  The greatest books I have ever read in my life have transported me to their world.  The story is what keeps your interest, the environment and setting are the details that keep you turning the pages well after bed time has past.  Strip the environment and setting from a novel and all that is left is a story without context.  Context keeps the world coherent and how can there be a coherent world when the author fails to create context before engaging in storytelling? 

*Sorry it’s a day late being published, I didn’t pre-write any blog posts this week and we were out of the house all day yesterday.  Long day and I quite simply wasn’t up to writing a blog post after such a long but rewarding day.

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