Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Book Experiment - Please Vote!

I am doing a little experiment. I got this idea over on my dear friend Kathy Holmes' blog where she was discussing characterization vs. plot in what makes a book good.

Okay, what I'd like you to do is this. Tell me about the last book you read that really held her interest and whether it was the characterization or the plot that made that book one you just couldn't put down and one that you would always remember. It could be a book you've just read or a book you read a long time ago that just stuck with you and you couldn't forget.

Do this in the comment section. When I get enough votes, I'm going to post the results and what they mean from a promoting perspective. I know, I know, just humor me. I've got a point and I believe it's a point that will help you when writing your own book.

The only rule is that you can't say both. It has to be one or the other.

Okay? So, ready, set, go!


  1. It's a book I'm reading now. Love @ First Site by Jayne Moore. In this one, it's the characterization that's holding my interest. In some books, it's the plot. But this one is definitely the characterization.

  2. For almost ANY book I fall in love with it is totally characterization. ALWAYS. (examples: BET ME by Jennifer Crusie, VALLEY OF THE DOLLS by Jaqueline Susanne, LITTLE EARTHQUAKES by Jennifer Weirner... or any of their books for all those authors).

  3. I'm greedy. I need both a good plot to keep me interested and characters who are well developed. The plot has to keep you guessing; it doesn't have to intricate, but it does have to stay away from cliches. As for characters, they have to be unique. No one is totally good or totally evil. But everyone has some of both.

  4. As you know, my post started off talking about characterization in a movie based on a novella. :)

    I cited 2 classics in my post, but I thought I would add 2 more movies (original and sequel): "Before Sunset" and "Before Sunrise." They're basically just a long conversation (one takes place entirely on a train) between 2 people, but the conversation and the characters are riveting. Of course any movie that's based on a play usually piques my interest, too, because of the witty exchanges.

    As for books, my favorite author is Laura Caldwell. Why? Her writing and the characters she creates. I think that's what makes chick lit interesting. And it all started with a character named Bridget Jones ... :)

    Could chick lit use some new plots? You betcha. It's not either/or.

  5. I would pick most of the books by Nelson DeMille and I think mainly for plot although he develops his characters well, too. He only writes a book about every three years because he puts a lot of time into research into the area and/or time they are set. One of his best is a fairly recent one, "Up Country," which is a return to Viet Nam - both south and north. Probably the best known was "The General's Daughter" but he has others that have had movies made from, too. A few have had returning characters, including "Up Country," but most stand totally alone.

  6. ya gotta have both. I know, I know. You said pick one. Proven Guilty by Jim Bitcher comes to mind. Great plot. But what really makes the book work is the characterization. Without his great characterization, I wouldn't have cared about the plot at all!

  7. I've put down three books recently with good plots simply because the characters didn't keep my attention. They weren't compelling anough to keep me interested. I don't have to like them, per se, but they must be interesting enough to keep me reading.

    I prefer novels with a full cast of characters. They feel more real to me. I can immerse myself further in and enjoy it more. Plot is important, but if I don't like the characters, I'm not going to keep reading.

  8. I suspect the character - otherwise why care whay plot happens to them?
    BTW, that is a beautiful picture on the header.

  9. The most recent book that really grabbed my attention and wouldn't let go, was Shanna Swendson's 'Once Upon Stilletos'. But the first one, 'Enchanted, Inc.', did the same for me. It's a tough call, because I think she did a great job with both characterization and plot. But if I had to choose the MAIN reason I loved those books, it would be characterization. Plot was good, and her story idea was very fun and creative, but in the end I fell in love with the characters and couldn't wait to see whether they'd ever find happiness and love. Heck, I'm on pins and needles waiting for a third, so her characterization was VERY influential in my reading.

  10. I'm going to do the opposite because the last 3 books I read were disasters.

    And it was because of characterization. I didn't care about the people, so it didn't matter how wonderful or intriguing the plot was.

    I was reading one of these in my laundry room, and it must have fell behind the washer. I didn't find it for over a week, and I forgot that I was reading it. This would never happen if I gave a damn about the characters.

    Characters win over plot with me.

  11. for me it's always about the characters. If I don't care what happens to them, then I could care less about the plot.

  12. 'Something Beginning With...' by my pal Sarah Salway.

    Funny, so funny. It was her main character that kept me going. I saw a lot of real life in her, your usual person, not some starlet beauty.

    So, character wins for me every time, which is probably why I'm struggling so badly with The DaVinci Code.

    Both plot and characters are boring, boring boring...


  13. I read a book a couple of years ago, called Amazing Gracie. It was about a Great Dane puppy. That little book, which I still have, is still in my heart, because of the characterization, and the writing. Characters and plot can be so-so, but if the words are flowing in a powerul way, it will be read by me. :)

  14. I just read "In The Company of a Courtesean" by Sara Dunat. I could not put it down -- and finished it in two days. The characters, setting, writing style made this book such an amazing read, and I hated for it to end.

    Other books that I couldn't put down were The DiVinci Code and The Devil Wears Prada. For The DiVinci Code I think the plot led the way. For The Devil wears Prada - all those wonderful characters!

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  16. Although I've read a lot of great book since reading the one I'm going to talk about, the most recent book that made me go, "Wow! I'm going to get every book this author writes!" was The Dark Highlander by Karen Marie Moning. I loved it - and it was the characterization.


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