Like many of you, I have a passion for books as both a reader and a writer and find it nearly impossible to pick one all-time favorite. I can list my Top 10 Favorites (maybe) and after agonizing over it (and begging forgiveness from the heroes & heroines who deserved, but didn't make the final cut), I can name my Top 5 books (in no particular order). But ask me to name my Favorite Book out of the thousands of books I've read in various genres, and I'll most likely hyperventilate and quite possibly pass out. Like a mother picking a favorite child, I just can't do it. Why? Because like people, the best books in any genre are unique in their own way - each commanding my attention for different reasons and yet all holding me in a trance and ultimately owning me heart and soul.
No matter the genre (whether I'm reading or writing it), a well-crafted "real" book must include several things to excite me and find its way onto my favorite book list including but not limited to:
1) Well-developed, complex characters that I love to love or love to hate - either way they're unique, believable (whether human or not), and unforgettable, often preying on my mind long after I read (or write) the ending of their story.
2) Well-developed, intriguing plot lines that quickly draw me in - as curvy and dangerous as our back country roads, winding perilously near the edge causing me to hold my breath in trepidation before I finally emerge on the other side to find everything expertly woven together in a surprise ending.
3) Settings so vividly alive that I see, smell, taste, and feel them as they evolve into a living, breathing character, often leaving me knowing that this particular story would never have worked as well in any other setting.
4) A distinctive tone that defines the mood early and maintains it throughout.
Many good books I've enjoyed meet some of my requirements, but those that leave a forever mark on my soul are gifted with all of them and always leave me feeling a little giddy and emotionally drained as I yearn for just one more page, chapter, or book . . . needing to feel that "falling in love" feeling all over again. As an author, it's what I aspire to do - write a book that leaves someone somewhere feeling that way. And I hold my own writing to the same high standards I demand from other writers which leads me to this month's IWSG question.
What do you love about the genre you write in most often?
For an established author who writes almost exclusively in one genre, this is probably a no-brainer. For authors who have published in multiple genres, it's most likely a fairly easy question. But for writers still trying to find their own path, it can be a little more complicated as they need time to develop their creativity and style and discover the genre that excites them most. As for myself, there's so much I enjoy about reading and exploring my writing potential in different genres. But for now, I find myself gravitating toward the paranormal and suspense genres or variations thereof. My current work in progress is romance/suspense - a little dark and edgy with an ominous undercurrent of pending doom - and yes, if pushed to choose, it's my favorite genre in which to write. As to what I love most about writing in this or any genre, see my four "must-haves" above. They hold true for any book in any genre whether I'm writing or reading, and the creation process involved is the reason I love writing. I get stoked about the endless possibilities when planning and developing my setting, plot lines, tone, and characters, and I love the giddy feeling that occurs when ideas are popping and things click. No drugs needed here to get high! Give me a story that's working, and I'll fall in love all over again.
How about you? What do you love most about the genre you write (or read) most often? What makes you shout to others, "You simply MUST read this book"? (other than the fact that it's yours, and it's awesome, of course!)
The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a community of writers who share ideas and encourage other writers. It's a great place to express doubts and concerns as well as offer and receive tribulations and guidance from other writers. IWSG posts the first Wednesday of every month. I think you'll find it to be a great writer's resource that's well worth your time. Be sure to stop by and visit with some of the other IWSG writers/bloggers at IWSG Members.
Many thanks to our awesome February Co-Hosts: Stephen Tremp, Pat Garcia, Angela Wooldridge, Victoria Marie Lees, and Madeline Mora-Summonte!