As always, I like to remind the lovely folks who are reading this blog that first and foremost, I am a reader, then a writer. I read anywhere from one to three books a week, even when I'm writing. And considering the fact that I write only one to three books a year, I believe that means I have more clout as a reader than a writer. My opinion, of course. And ... I do understand that not everyone likes what I like. But that's okay. I never forget that. My posts are just my opinions. Also, since I also market books for a living, usually sharing one to six books daily, I read a lot of reviews. So, with that disclosure, onto today's discussion about reading and/or writing.
Today I want to talk about the unbelievable story and happily-ever-after comments in reviews.
One of my least favorite comments in a review is that the story was unbelievable. I guess when a reader says that, I'd just like a little more clarification. What was unbelievable? The fact that what happened, happened, or that the writer didn't make the characters seem believable?
I mean, really, if you think about it ... aren't all stories supposed to be unbelievable? Isn't that why they are stories in the first place? Even the "Based on True Events" stories. The reason those events are turned into a story is because the story is out of the norm, far-fetched, or shocking. I recently watched -- well, I was in the room as my hubby watched, as I NEVER would have watched the movie in a million years -- Pain & Gain. Halfway through the movie, and several times thereafter, the producers added a caption at the bottom of the screen: Yes, this is still a true story. Because it was so outlandish. I still have a hard time believing even half of it.
Heck, half of the stuff that was written thousands of years ago, is still read and studied in school: Greek Mythology, Homer's Iliad, for instance. No one questions a horse that flies or a half-man, half-goat. We know it's not real; it's called escapism. Especially back then when there wasn't much else to do but work and tell stories.
The fact of the matter is, whether we're reading a Tom Clancy thriller or a romance novel by Nora Roberts, the story is supposed to be a tad bit unbelievable, or it wouldn't be exciting to read. I'm not talking about easily searchable facts. Of course, the story -- even if it's paranormal -- should make sense. BUT ... if you think about it ... how many FBI agents are rogues. How many street blocks get shot up and wrecked during a high-speed car chase. Not many, believe it or not, because officers are instructed not to do high-speed chases in populated areas, unless it's a life-or-death situation. (Did I tell you I married a cop?) BUT ... you still see cars wrecking into buildings and the chase continuing in almost every book or movie. Because it's fun, exciting, unbelievable ... In real life, the police set up roadblocks and/or lay spike strips across the road, but that wouldn't be as tantalizing to read.
Same goes with dramas and romance novels. Believe me ... if I just wrote about my day-to-day life, I'd bore you to tears. BUT ... if I went back a few years, I could start a story right in the middle of the action of some sensational or horrific event in my life. And yes, you would probably say, “What are the chances that happened?” But that's what makes a good story. Or, I can take an average event, and add some crazy twist. The point is, if nothing unusual happens, it's not really a story. Heck, it's barely a journal. Other than a few scribbles, we rarely write about a boring day in our diary. No, we wait until something exciting happens.
The other issue in reviews is the Happily Ever After, which we readers and writers commonly refer to as HEA. I see a lot of people who say ... “Meh! It all worked out!”
Well, again, how many of us want to read a story where everyone dies at the end, or you just plain want to cry your eyes out. Sometimes it's okay ... if there's meaning behind it. Like the book/movie Pay It Forward. I had a love/hate relationship with that ending, but at least there was hope. (No spoilers! Another thing I loathe in reviews. It simply isn't fair to other readers)
As for books by Nicholas Sparks, I now question if the book has an HEA. I know that sounds lame, but I don't want a book where there's no hope at the end. I don't mind a few tears, but I want a smile at the end.
Anyway, most of us readers want a Story and an HEA (My opinion, of course, based on everything I see). We read for enjoyment, we read for escape, we read so that we can have hope. If you don't want everything to be all sunshine and roses, please let me suggest A Game of Thrones. Beautiful, poetic writing, BUT ... I don't think I'd be giving a spoiler if I told you to prepare for death. It's what George R.R. Martin is known for, I believe.
So next time you read a book, and it sounds unbelievable, remember, that's what authors are supposed to do: Tell a Story!
What say you? What do you like to read or NOT read in a book review? Feel free to start a conversation here or at any of my social media homes. I love talking about all things BOOKS!
Until next time, happy reading and writing, my friends!
Thank you for stopping by my place and reading my musings. Remember, these are just my opinions and shouldn't be taken too seriously. If you have questions, please feel free to leave them in the comment section, and I promise you I will answer. I love talking about all things books, so if you want more posts on writing, marketing, new releases, and giveaways, please leave your email address here. I only send out a post a few times a month, at the most. :)
Want to try to figure out what's real or make believe in my stories? Visit my Amazon page, where you can download a few of the "firsts" in my collections, free! I'll warn you, though, the parts that most people don't believe are usually the true parts. Again, a sensational event is usually what makes me write a story in the first place.
Image credit: flynt / 123RF Stock Photo
But that doesn't mean you should give up!
Writing the perfect book, the perfect male or female character, the perfect movie, song, play ... the perfect anything ... is impossible. Yes, impossible!
Don't believe me ... Take a look at some of your all-time favorite movies, books, plays, music ... anything that you love. Someone, somewhere, hates it.
But you know what? That's okay!
Variety is the spice of life. If we all loved the same things, it would mean that everything would be the same. How boring would that be?
I can't count how many times hubby and I have been discussing an issue, and someone who doesn't know us thought we were arguing. Hey, we've been married twenty-six years ... that's how we talk. And we love it! If he agreed with everything I said or wanted, I'd think, "Man, where's the tough guy I married?" and if I gave him everything he wanted ... Well, he'd probably like it for a little while--he is a man, after all--but then, even men would get bored of a woman who agreed with everything they said and wanted.
So ... don't worry when a few people don't like what you wrote, said, sung, drew ... Look for--and be willing to learn from--the people who offer genuine, constructive criticism on what they didn't like about what you did, as those are the only critiques that matter. The honest reviews that will help you get better at your craft ... whatever it is.
That said, yep, I have people who don't like what I write, but that's okay. I know my characters aren't for everyone. I don't write perfect heroes, just perfect gentlemen with a few flaws. I write stories about real people, dealing with real issues, facing real life. And yes, I've learned a lot in the last three years from those genuine reviewers I mentioned above--because I was willing to listen--and I'll keep learning, as long as I can type and read.
So, brush off your backside, get back on the horse, and get back to work, my friends!
Until next time, Happy Reading and Writing!
Thank you for stopping by my place and reading my musings. Remember these are just my opinions and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. If you have questions, please feel free to leave them in the comment section, and I promise you I will answer. If you’re curious about what I write, please visit one of my author pages, where you can read all about my novels and short stories. And hey, I’ll even give you a free book, just for stopping by. To stay up-to-date on my writing posts, sales, giveaways, and new releases, sign up for my newsletter here.
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