An Unexpected Rest Stop

On my winding writing road, I’ve been stopped dead in my “writing tracks.”

Indeed, several recent posts here on Writers in Residence discussing research(Elaine L. Orr and G.B. Pool), and a recent most excellent local book-club selection, have sent me down a thought-path(new considerations), I most definitely did not expect.

Research thoughts, combined with my belief that characters and location are the essential keys to good story-telling, and subsequently good  book writing—have taken me aback a bit—well, at least rethinking my “absolutes.” So, I’m sharing here(smile).

Indeed, I always take particular note of posts—here, and elsewhere on writer’s blogs on “Research”—especially regarding, how, why, and its value. I so agree that only with direct knowledge, and/or in depth research, can you take a reader on the great adventure you think is important enough to write a book about. It’s in the “environment” that your characters tell their stories. Story telling at its best—and producing an enjoyable novel that will bring pleasure to a reader.

But here’s what really pulled me into this particular rest stop. Our latest book club selection was by a famous, and justifiably so, well liked, well respected, popular, and to me, very accomplished and good writer. And I certainly would recommend. I sampled enough to know the prose was excellent—with good story telling prowess, and the characters seemed like real people. Indeed, the author’s ability to take you to a place in just one sentence was astounding! The characters seemed real and quite interesting. But, after reading the intro, a quickie synopsis, and enough sampling to make the above comments, I did not want to read the book.

Why? Right now I’m thinking it was because I did not want to go to the location of the novel which I’m sure, in its completeness, was presented expertly. Nor did I want to be involved in the lives of the characters.

Which led me here; is it possible a reader might not want to go to the place I’ve so wonderfully researched and described? Not want to enter into the story intrigues I want to draw them into? Not want to “feel” the sensations I’ve taken such care to describe? How could that be? Right now, I’m leaning toward the supposition there are some places some readers might not want to physically or mentally visit—in reality or literally. Regardless of how well researched, described, or author enticed into.

Surprised by my reaction, it’s given me pause to initially think some potential readers might not be reading my books because they don’t want to go where my setting is, or with my characters? The Mojave Desert, and Leiv et al?

Rereading the above before posting, there’s a lot of “I’s” here, but as always, I’m(smile) thinking laying out my surprising to me reaction, and initial thoughts here might be helpful? Location and characters are still my “holy grail” for writing—though there’s a “but” here somewhere that I’m missing…

All thoughts are welcome!

Happy Writing Trails!

13 thoughts on “An Unexpected Rest Stop”

  1. I think about such things a lot as I start something new. I think it either has to be readers want to “visit” the place or like the subject matter. Either way, one of those has to interest me or I stall.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, Elaine, I stalled completely. But it was the first time because I did not want to go to the “setting” which is so important to me in my own writing. Thinking today, plain non-observing ignorance on my part combined with never experienced myself. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone in my not wanting to go to a particular place.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, M, your post is one of the most interesting for digging deeply into one’s decisions regarding not only setting but also characters and plot. Perhaps it all comes down to an author’s personal preferences. I have two books that are selling well, but one is a novel based on a true 9/11 story, and the other is a biography of a World War II fighter pilot – a Luftwaffe ace. I have been told by two people they would never read the former and by three people they’d never read the latter. Should their opinions dictate what we write? Many readers won’t buy gore-infest thrillers that detail a killer’s knife work and, happily, there are plenty of cozies that offer alterantives. Thank you, for a thought-provoking piece that stopped you in your tracks and that you have shared with us.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, Jill, you’re right about how I shying away from some genre’s. and novels with gore detail–so why shouldn’t setting also be an issue? I guess I was just so surprised because it was my own personal reaction. I think it says a lot about you that you have readers/friends who have given such honest feedback. I think knowing what’s going on–whether causing change or not–is so helpful in our writing journey…


  3. Your post really got me thinking. It’s so hard to try to determine where a reader might want to go with a story. I always attempt to set mine in appropriate and interesting locations, with plots that could intrigue others, but who knows? Now I’ve got something else to worry about while I’m writing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, Linda, where does this writing-journey end? I’m thinking it doesn’t!(smile) Every time I think I’ve got something nailed down, then… And like you, in my mind I’m thinking who wouldn’t be intrigued by my locations setting? Ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A most intriguing post, Mad. I agree, sometimes the location, the timeframe, the characters, or even my mood will put me off a book, but it goes beyond that. I have had the same experience as you with an author who, while an excellent writer who works in a genre and era I generally enjoy, had failed to capture my interest, and I never figured out why. I guess not every author makes a good “traveling companion” (smile).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I really like your phrase, Miko, that not every author makes a good “traveling companion”! For me, I think, this was an unusual experience in that I usually am ready for going along on the journey. Not this time, and a new experience not wanting to visit the location. Even just on a book adventure. Still pondering… Comforting to know I’m not alone. Feeling kind of snooty…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You have hit on a writer’s truth, Mad. Sometimes readers don’t want to go on that journey. Right now I won’t read non-fiction about what has been going on in the world for, say, the past ten or so years. I have seen enough on TV and don’t want my pleasure time wasted on seeing it rehashed. But some fiction writers are also covering the current things happening. Not for me. I’ve seen enough and want escape to a better place even if there is a dead body. As long as a mystery novel doesn’t turn into a blood-fest, I would rather go down that road or maybe down Route 66 with some favorite characters. There are plenty of books out there. Read On! and Writers… Write On!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, Gayle! I’m with you. If I have an inkling a book is about/or set amidst current events, usually not interested. This is the first time, however when I just didn’t want to go to a place, no matter what period, story, or characters. And, you are soooooooo right, there are plenty of books out there…ego just doesn’t want a reader to dump me due to location(smile). As Miko says, so glad you like “traveling” with me along 66 out into the desert(smile again)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. H’mmm. Interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever had a setting make me not want to read a book–though other thins have, a cozy that is just too silly, unbelievable characters, a fantasy that is way too fantastic, but that’s me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Marilynm, first time for this happening to me. And I can agree with the “silliness” issue. Of course, everyplace can’t be Bear Creek or Rocky Bluff(smile)! Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So timely, Madeline, as I’m starting a new series and only have a vague picture of the setting and characters. I have turned down books for various reasons, and sometimes it was because I didn’t want to read them at the time. Reading is so subjective — for the past year, I’ve only read lightweight, entertaining books (but I draw the line at silliness!). I agree with those who don’t want to read anything covering current events.

    It’s wonderful that there are enough reading choices to please each reader.


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