Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What Makes A Good Book?

I've come to a rather startling discovery recently: what makes a good book is completely subjective. (gasp!)

What makes a book good to me won't be what makes a book good for you. But I'll still give you my opinion.

What makes a good book? Great characters.

I can't tell you how many books I've grabbed off the shelves, thinking the premise was great, the characters sounded great and together... they turned into either a boring or not believable read. I hate when this happens, but reading books that I thought would be good and having them turn into door-bangers has taught me one thing: to create characters I believe in for my own books.

Defining great characters is a bit more difficult. For me, a good character is believable. They may do fantastic things, have fantastic cars/homes/jobs but they are still people that as you're reading turn into people you can see yourself talking to. Maybe they have traits (the way they talk/think; the people they have relationships with; unique idiosyncracies) that you recognize from people in your own life or relationship circle and that draws you to their "book person". Above all, for me, great characters are people. They stop being someone you're reading about and instead become someone you're making a journey with. I'm starting to sound like Oprah, I know, but if you can't identify with the characters in books, what are you identifying with?

My CPs, my agent and editors tell me I create solid, believable characters. Some days I agree with them and other days ... I want to throw my characters out the window and close their book, but I work through the anger.

And usually with a little distance I see the core of the character through the angsty mists and I love them all over again.

My question to you is this: what makes a character great, in your opinion?