Archive for July, 2010


Why I Like To Read What I Do

   Posted by: GG Vandagriff    in Writing

Last night I was in the mood for a good book That doesn’t happen often when I’m writing under deadline pressure.  But, I just wanted to read, nothing else appealed to me, and I badly needed to relax from “deadline tension.”

The book I chose was one I had bought several months ago and though I had dragged it through Europe and up the California coastline, I had never as much as cracked it open.

I only made it halfway through the second chapter, and decided that that’s all I was going to read.  At one time, I might have had more patience, but these days my leisure time is too valuable.  I turned out the light and went to bed clutching Nebudcannezer (I’ll have to look that up one of these days)  my purple fuzzy monkey my husband bought me because it makes me feel like I’m holding my newborn grandson, Micah.  But I didn’t go to sleep immediately.  I am a writer, so naturally I pondered the question:  why didn’t I want to continue that book?  It had a potentially good plot, was very well written, was clean and wholesome.  Then it came to me.  It was ordinary.  Being an eccentric myself, I seem to have no patience with the ordinary.  I have to be grabbed in the first paragraph.  And then, to sustain my interest, I have to have a unique setting, complex (even flawed) characters with quirks, and, in general, the unexpected. 

This may sound like I’m a thrill seeker, and perhaps I am after living on a steady diet of mysteries for many years.  But my favorite mysteries were cozies, so I really don’t think it’s thrills I’m looking for.  I recently read an agent’s blog who said that she was so tired of reading excellently written manuscripts that just didn’t resonate with her, because they followed such an expected pattern.  She always knew how the characters were going to respond in any situation.  After reading that, I made sure my characters were even more unexpected than usual!

To sum it up, what I look for in a good read is:

1.) The unexpected

2.) Characters who are so real that they literally become part of my lfe.  I think about them even when I’m not reading them, and when I finish my book I am always sad because important people have gone out of my life.  I will often read the book over and over.

3.)Settings that are rich with detail that I will enjoy discovering more about as I read.  I am a traveler, and when I’m living life in Provo, I like being an armchair traveler.  That doesn’t necessarily mean foreign travel, just somepace unique that leaves its print on the characters and influences them in speech, dress, or ourtlook on life.  As a writer, I am always on the lookout for such setttings, and enjoy making them “characters” in my books.

4.)Beautiful writing.  Not writing that calls attention to itself, but writing rich with metaphor and simile, great nouns, and as Rachel Anne Nunnes says “fresh verbs”.  I like rich writing that flows like honey, comforting something in my soul, making me feel like I am not alone in there—that someone else sees beyond the surface and describes it in a way that connects with me.

Not much to ask, is it?  In my next blog, I’ll share a few of my most favorite pieces of writing.

Happy reading this summer!