Life Coach Magazine

Lose the Guilt: The Harsh Reality of a Reader…Interrupted

By Writerinterrupted @writerinterrupt

I have way too many books in my TBR (To Be Read) pile. Way too many friends with books I’ve been wanting to read for years. YEARS! Some of these books are personally autographed to me. They wait and stare and guilt me into not giving them away because I have read them. My book shelf is full, and soon I’ll have to be stacking books on the floor. My mind is already clutter as a writer…interrupted. I don’t need the distraction of yet something else I need or should do that takes me away from writing.

So here’s the harsh reality of this reader…interrupted. I’ve decided to lose the guilt and be picky with what I read. I know, a shocker!

How do I plan to lose the guilt of not reading all those books and enjoy the ones I choose to finish? By asking myself these simple questions and answering honestly. You might want to try it.

Do I care what happens to the main character? Notice I didn’t ask if I liked the main character because frankly, sometimes I don’t like my main characters. But liking a character shouldn’t be the deciding factor in whether you will like the story. Instead ask these questions:

  • Can I relate to the character? Sometimes we dislike a character because they push our buttons. We see or feel something in them that messes with our stuff. And that’s good! Maybe be need to keep reading even if we don’t like the character.
  • Are there any redeeming qualities in the character despite the obvious flaws? Honestly, I’m turned off by characters that seem too nice or good. They seem cardboard to me. I want a real, flesh and blood character that struggles with the things I struggle with. That sins like I sin. Who repents when ready, and is motivated by a noble cause even though the choices the character makes may be less than scrupulous. Despite the ugliness of the character, I want to see a redeeming quality. And I want to see the character grow and change. Even just a little.
  • Is the main character interesting enough to make me want to keep reading? You don’t have to like someone to want to know all the dirt on them. The same thing should go for our main characters. What? It’s human nature to want to “know” about others and perfectly okay in fiction!
    :)

I’ve come to accept not everyone will like the same character. I’ve experienced this first hand with my novel Digging Up Death. Some people can relate to Mari, others hate her. And that’s okay. That’s what makes diversity in genres, characters, and novels so exciting. To each his own.

Is the story line cliche or does the plot take an unexpected turn? Girl meets boy. They fall in love. Girl gets mad at boy. They break up, then reconcile, then live happily ever after. Substitute girl and boy for wife and husband, exboyfriend/girlfriend, and I’ve just described the most popular books on the market. But unfortunately, in my opinion, a lot of these novels are cliche and predictable, and over done. Unhappy house wife has midlife crisis, questions her purpose, her relationships. Single girl with baggage feels unlovable, but risks finding love. Etc. Etc. How ever you package it, the story reads the same. At least for me. Unless there’s something fresh and exciting, then I’m hooked.

And knowing this point has benefit for me as an author, not just as a reader. Not everyone thinks my plot is brilliant, though I’m not sure why? But knowing that someone might find my plot predictable makes me dig deeper and think harder when deciding on a twist or surprise. And that’s a good thing. Still I keep in mind, fresh and exciting will be different for every reader, and every reader is entitled to their opinion. Even if their opinion is they didn’t care for my story. Enough people will, and I’m okay with the naysayers, especially when they help me grow as a writer.

For me, the harsh reality of being a reader…interrupted is if I can’t relate to the character, or the plot feels like something I’ve read before, or the crisis the character is facing makes me yawn and say “who cares?” I’ll put the book down no matter whose name is on the cover. Maybe you should too.

Harsh? Maybe, but reality is by putting the book down you will gain more time, enjoy what you read more, and clear out your bookshelf for the real keepers.

How about you? Do you agree? What make you keep reading?


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