Because I've been reading non-fiction almost exclusively lately, I have challenged myself to pick up fiction. I never really thought of myself as a fiction snob, but I frequently am disappointed about the novels I pick up.
And I don't know why.
I'm interested in discovering this answer, both as a reader and a writer.
As a reader, I obviously want to be swept away to another time or place, fall in love with the characters, and/or be otherwise entertained. I usually stick to literary or mainstream fiction because I prefer a strong character arc to my books. I don't care so much about the plot, and I lovelovelove beautiful language.
I assumed that genre novels (romance, scifi/fantasy, mystery/thriller, horror) didn't focus on character development and were more akin to Hollywood blockbusters for the ADHD crowd.
But that's ungenerous.
So I've specifically challenged myself to read more genre fiction. I purchased seven genre e-books--mostly romance, but two darker ones. I thought maybe the romances would surprise me. I do, after all, enjoy romantic comedies. Though, I have to admit that my favorite rom-coms are independent ones, and not the Hollywood blockbuster ones. (Strike one for genre.) And my only experience with romance novels were a couple of unfortunate Danielle Steels and Victoria Holt's gothic romance in my high school years, Harlequins in middle school, and some Nora Roberts when I was desperate for a book to read in my early thirties.
But that's ungenerous. Again.
So maybe I am a fiction snob.
But that doesn't add up either, because there are plenty of "classics" and award-winning novels that I couldn't wrap my head around (or even understand sometimes) and even stopped reading before the end--unheard of in my earlier days of reading.
I think what I really am attracted to is voice. The author's voice.
So, as a writer, I'm interested in what makes me turn the pages as a reader. What is it about an author's voice that I like?
That's harder to identify. And--it seems--is completely subjective. Which makes it hard to duplicate as a writer.
Right now, I am reading Crescent, by Diana Abu-Jaber. More mainstream fiction. I know, I know.
But what's a girl to do with a To Be Read pile like this?
I'll read one of the new genre e-books next. Promise.