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Thread: What do you look for in a good story?

  1. #1
    Early Learner
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    What do you look for in a good story?

    Put another way, what, for you, makes for a really entertaining read? Is it compelling characters? A good plot? What?
    Please let us know and please let us know which genre you are referring to.

  2. #2
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    Welcome to the forum Joseph!

    I have to like the protagonist. Or if I don't ~ he or she has to have (in my eyes) at least one redeeming feature. I have to like, no-make that love, the author's voice and I want an interesting story told in an interesting and entertaining way.
    I read mostly mysteries, suspense, thrillers...but these are must-have-likes in any genre I read.

  3. #3
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    I mainly read Thriller/Police Procedural books. Occasionally I try something different. The characters are important, after several featuring a character you need to feel as though you "know", or are a friend of, the character. That said I'm also a fan of the standalone books of such as Harlan Coben, Robert Goddard and others

  4. #4
    Bearded Member Dan M.'s Avatar
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    There's a lot of subjectivity here, of course, but with the books from some authors, it's hard to choose one aspect over the other. Reacher is such a compelling character, rendered by Lee with such a unique voice, it almost makes up for those books where the plot line suffers a bit. Almost. Yes, I have my favorite Reacher stories that I'll read over and over, and there are a few I've only read once and don't really care if I read them again. Stephen Hunter, with Bob Lee and his father Earl Swagger--very compelling characters presented in a unique voice. Another guy in this same vein in Robert Crais with Elvis and Joe. Other authors have it the other way around. Dan Brown's characters maybe aren't as interesting, but stories like The Davinci Code are flat out page-turners. Same with Grisham, Crichton, CJ Box--characters are serviceable, plots are very well told. A lot of folks here like Lucas Davenport in the Prey series. I read one and didn't really care for something about Davenport's character. That was it for me, never read another one. In the long run, if I had to pick one thing, the plot is what attracts me and keeps me reading.
    Last edited by Dan M.; 09-07-2019 at 09:15 PM.
    The rules are: There ain't no rules.

  5. #5
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    Thanks everyone for posting, keep them coming!
    Deanie and Dan M, you two have picked two different things: Deanie, you picked out character and author voice; Dan picked out plot. It's interesting, isn't it, that you can have a novel with completely flat characters, but that keeps you reading? When I was reading your posts, I was thinking of a couple of James Bond novels (Fleming ones) that I've read (ages ago): we learn about JB's character from the things he wears and drinks and from what he does (including the way he treats women). But I never really felt like I knew Bond. And yet, the stories are, in my opinion, very well told, with an economy of style and plots which, for the most part, rocket along (even though I disagree with some of the morality). I don't want this to become a James Bond thread, but I think this neatly illustrates Dan's point: plot can compensate for character - in the right hands. And yet, it also supports Deanie, because Bond is a character that people want to follow and find out what scrapes his Secret Service job will get him into and how he will get himself out of them. Interestingly, I think it was Lee Child who said that people don;t really remember stories or plots, but they do remember characters.
    What do other people think? Is it plot over character that you look for? Or is it the other way round: a compelling character even if the plot is a little lackluster?
    Please feel free to comment. I'm looking forward to where this discussion might go! Thanks!

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