Good Story vs. Bad Story

Photo Credit: evolutionlabs Flickr via Compfight cc

If you are a reader, I’m sure it happened to you at least once. You buy a book with the best expectations — it seems such a good story! — or maybe it’s just an ok story but you buy it because it’s cheap or because you need something to enrich your to-read shelf. Then you bring the book home and, some time later, you read it.

And it’s a complete, utter disappointment.

It happened to me lately. I’m uncertain about telling you the title about the book, because I don’t like to disparage another author’s work. Anyway, that was a terrible reading experience.

Problems with the characters

First, the characters were flat, at best. Especially the main characters. That’s frustrating, because you keep expecting to see some arc, some growth, and… nothing. The hero was arrogant, possessive and obsessive at the beginning, and so it is at the end — after three books. 636 pages. The heroine doesn’t show common sense nor backbone, and she completely depends on the hero. Both are mushy ad nauseam.

Problems with the plot

Oh, I don’t know where to begin. It’s not that there are plot holes, the story isn’t that complicated, but the 636 pages are filled with so much pointless sex and the story progress so slowly that you want to tear your hair out.

The chemistry between the hero and the heroine doesn’t build gradually, it blows up in the reader’s face on page one without explanation and, apparently, without reason.

From the moment they meet they both start thinking about having sex with each other. Then they have sex with each other, and talk about it, and think about it, and dream about it. And it’s totally, utterly pointless to the advancement of the plot or the character’s growth. The only thing that grows is the reader frustration about how silly and exaggerate their sexual encounters become through the book.

Mind you, I’m not against sex scenes in books, not at all. But they have to make sense with the story, not be an expedient to turn a 25k words story in a 50k word work. Gosh, I read erotica novels with less sex and more plot!

Problems with the emotions

The main problem — at least, for me — was the lack of connection I felt towards the characters. I expect little originality in romance. It’s romance, for the love of God. It’s the umpteenth variation of the-boy-meets-the-girl story. But I need to feel something for the characters, I need to care for them. And sadly this wasn’t the case.

Why did I do this to myself?

You may wonder why I inflicted myself such a pain, since it was clear from the beginning that I would not enjoy it.

First, up to the middle of the second book I kept hoping the story would get better somehow. I was deeply disappointed. But most of all, it seems I’m still unable to abandon a book I bought, because I spent money on it (not much, fortunately) and now I have to read it. Luckily I rarely run into such blunders.

Something good came from it

Reading this book, however, wasn’t a complete waste of time. At least, I learned several to-don’t as a writer:

  • don’t forget to make your characters relatable
  • give them an arc — positive or negative
  • build their relationship gradually
  • use sex sparingly, even if it’s a steamy romance.

Now tell me… what was the worst reading experience you had lately?

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