Sunday, 19 June 2011

Make Me Care

I usually try to blog twice a week, but I was under a 'book spell': I started reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo on Thursday. It's over 800 pages long. I finished it on Friday. I literally couldn't put it down. That rarely happens to me, and it's why I love to read.

My sister-in-law lent me the book, along with the second in the series, The Girl Who Played With Fire. I had planned to take them to the beach this summer, but I'll probably have the second one finished by the end of the week.

Suspense thrillers are not a genre I usually read, but I had heard the hype about the Larsson trilogy, so I decided to give the first one a try. And lately I've been discouraged by the number of amateur sleuth mysteries -- the genre I write -- that haven't held my interest. The stories are okay, the writing is professional, but the characters bored me, the story bored me, and I didn't care.

I need to care. An editor once gave me that advice at a writing conference. "Make me care," she said. "It's up to you to decide how to make that happen. But I need to care, or I'll toss the book against the wall."

My walls are starting to get pock marks from all the tossing. 

I know some readers who will finish every book even though they hate it. Strange. I have no problem reading a few chapters and giving up if it doesn't captivate me. 

Why does one book grab us and the other bore us to death? Now there's a question. I like books with characters who are out of the ordinary. Whose problems seem insurmountable and keep piling up. Who have unusual hangups. Who I feel sorry for. Who I care about. 

Ordinary characters with ordinary plots just don't grab me enough to want to read until the last page. I recently read a mystery where the heroine mostly made breakfast. That's correct. Every chapter, she made breakfast and thought about the events of the plot. She made blueberry pancakes, sausage frittatta, cranberry muffins and banana bread. My stomach growled a lot, but my curiosity wasn't peaked. 

Her love interest was the neighbour next door. A nice, handsome man who dropped by whenever she needed him. There was no tension between them, no problems that made me wonder, Are these two going to be a couple at the end? Honestly, I couldn't care less if they did or not. I might as well watch paint dry. 

If I want to see ordinary people acting ordinary, I can sit on my deck and spy on my neighbours. 

I didn't throw that book against the wall, since it was on my Nook, and I love my Nook. But I regret the money I spent on it. So my search continues for a riveting amateur sleuth mystery that captivates me. I'll keep you posted.


  1. Those two books are in my to be read pile for the summer, now I can't wait to start reading them.

    As you know I LOVE suspense thrillers, reading and writing them, I just hope you care about mine when it heads your way for a critique. LOL

    I guess throwing books against the wall are going to be a thing of the past now with e-book readers. Have to think of another metaphor for those wall bangers.

    Great post, Nancy!

  2. I tried my best to like Dragon Tattoo but it became one of the few books I couldn't finish. I like thrillers but this one completely lost me when the author spent a page and a half describing the girl's new computer.