Reading Lessons

One of the reasons for my reading vacation was to refill my brain with stuff that I will, eventually, use to write. Letting new water seep into the well, as it were. Eventually, I will write again, and I don’t want to have to dig that writing out of the dry and cracked ground of my brain with a pickaxe.

(Another reason was that if I didn’t get some hermit-time, I was going to start banging people over the head with whatever I had to hand if they so much as looked at me funny, which tells you something about me and reading.)

I read a lot of books during that week, and skimmed through some that I didn’t feel like reading in their entirety, and I tried not to think too much about writing. I did write, on Friday–I had an idea, or part of one, that I burned to put on paper, so I allowed myself to do that, but I didn’t finish the short story I began, I only wrote until I came to a logical stopping point. (I didn’t finish the story yet, anyway).

But back to the reading. A large portion of what I read were books from series that I had followed for years, one of them even before it was sold. I realized what I cared about, far more than the ongoing plot, was the characters. They’d appeared in more than one book, so I had a better acquaintance with them than characters who only appear in a single novel. Sometimes it only takes one book to love a character, but there are other things you can do with them when they appear over and over. I am thinking about that now. Not very hard. But it’s in my backbrain.

I already knew I loved character-driven novels and series even more. It seems a silly thing to need to be reminded of. But I think I did need to be reminded. Now I’m thinking about why I like series so much.

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen’s first erotic novel, The Duchess, Her Maid, The Groom and Their Lover (Harlequin Spice, December 2008), was translated into French and German. Her second Spice novel, The Moonlight Mistress (December 2009), was translated into Italian and nominated for a RT Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her third novel is The Duke & The Pirate Queen (December 2010). She has also published erotic short stories as Elspeth Potter. Her blog features professional writing and marketing tips, genre discussion, book reviews, and occasional author interviews.
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5 Responses to Reading Lessons

  1. Cara Bristol says:

    I prefer character-driven novels too. I think that's what I like about romance…it's totally character-driven.

  2. simonekendrick says:

    I think it's easier for a reader to become emotionally involved with a series character. They know that there will be more books in the future, usually because of the nature of the plot, so they allow themselves to open up more with the main character or side characters they prefer.

    I know I prefer series, but only if the story is good. :) I guess that's the ultimate say- the character can only be as good as the story.

  3. Victoria Janssen says:

    One of the things I'm thinking about is how much the series character can change over the course of the series and still keep the reader involvement. Is a lot of character change good, or does it take away from what we want from reading the series?

  4. Cara Bristol says:

    Something I've noticed in some series is the that secondary characters change and grow, but the primary ones don't. I think you do run the risk of changing what readers like if the main characters changes too much. I've noticed this in television shows.

    One recent example is the sitcom Two and a half Men (I never claimed to watch highbrow TV!). The Alan character started out as a nice, decent, ethical guy who was going through a divorce that left him broke. Over the years he's become a cheap, mooching opportunistic womanizer.

    Not sympathetic anymore.

  5. Victoria Janssen says:

    I think one really has to avoid a sort of entropy-into-caricature for a long-running character.

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