I’ve always been a reader for as long as I can remember. I used to think as a child that my deteriorating eye sight was due to reading too much at night with a flashlight when I was supposed to be sleeping. I guess that’s probably not the case, I just got some bad genetics, but I certainly did love to read, constantly. I would devour books upon books, going to the library wishing that their 5 book limit was 10. And I’ve always loved a good story. Either a book, a movie, anything that draws me into someone else’s life or some other time.
Now that I’m writing even more than ever and more seriously, I’m noticing that it’s harder for me to appreciate a book. I find that at times I get too caught up in how the writer is writing or their quirks or style. It’s harder for me to truly get lost in a book, although usually once I’m used to someone’s style and it doesn’t offend me in some way, I find that I can get lost again in the story. Sometimes though I can’t. I seem to require good writing. Very good writing that makes you “see’ what is supposed to be happening. And I can’t stand books where things happen that seem unbelievable. For example a book about teenagers where they talk like adults. No teenager talks in a pompous correct style and I mean modern teens, not historical books where they might have talked that way.
I’ve been trying to read more books about modern teens to see what others are writing about. I get frustrated though because their teens don’t talk about sex or get into sexual situations, they don’t swear, they talk and act like adults. That makes me crazy and it takes me right out of the book because I was a teen once and I know how I acted and how others around me acted and talked. I think sometimes people try to make teen books, nice, and I’m not sure if it’s to protect parents from knowing how teens really are or if it’s to try to show teens how they ‘should” act. I don’t think that the teenage years are particularly “nice” in any way. They are awkward, gritty and I feel as a person you really go through a lot of shit as a teen, pushing limits, trying new things. That being said, my book is an attempt on my part to be realistic and I know that there will be people who might be shocked by this or appalled by the language, but I feel like I have to be authentic. From a very young age, teens are talking and joking about sex. They are experimenting with sex, drugs and more. I think writers need to put this kind of detail into their own writing, the slang, the jokes, the kinds of daring things that teens do. Too often I read books that have left all of that out. Books where teens don’t even talk about sex with their best girlfriends, or where there is no mention of it at all. This just seems wrong to me and whenever I read a book like that I get quite frustrated.
I’ve also found that I enjoy a good “voice” in a character. I want to hear the way they think, especially if they have some kind of mental illness. I’ve tried quite hard to make sure my main character has her own unique voice and fears. I hope it will be successful. Too often I find characters to be cookie cutters or will find villains inserted for no reason at all, just to have somewhere for the story to go. If the book is supposed to be like “real life” than that is what I expect. I don’t expect a strange villain to take over the scene and force the character to do something. It just doesn’t seem realistic. For me, the villain is the mental illness and I want to let that propel the story because it forces my character to act in a certain way and into certain situations that she might not necessarily have gone into without her panic attacks and anxiety. I think letting the mental illness create the plot points is very interesting. I hope I’m right!
Do you read? What kinds of books do you like? I feel like I’m a critic of books these days, honing in on what I like in writing and what I admire. I only hope that I can someday be the kind of writer that I admire.