Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Beginnings, Middles and Endings

I have had many a discussion in the past about what makes a book "good". I am willing to concede this is a matter of personal preference. A book might be superior in its language, and win all kinds of literary prizes. But that doesn't mean I'm going to like it.

Other books might tell a great story, but the writing style leaves a lot to be desired. They still manage to be mega best sellers ([cough] Dan Brown [cough] Stephenie Meyer).

I admit to being fairly simplistic in my literary tastes. I like a beginning, a middle, and an end. I like things to occur in chronological order. I like plenty of action. There has to be death, and danger (and preferably a bit of gore). This is what draws me to horror, crime and urban fantasy - on the whole, these genres have plenty of excitement, the characters face danger, and blood gets spilled.

A few years ago I read - and really hated - Donna Tartt's "The Little Friend". It started off well. A 12-year-old girl goes sleuthing to discover who murdered the brother who was killed before she was born. A mystery, then. I got quite engrosed in following her journey as she picks up clues.

But the book comes to an abrupt end without revealing who the killer is. That's an unsatisfactory ending. Fans of "The Little Friend" tend to say that the book is not about the murder, it's about the main character's emotional journey through adolescence. But you know what? That sort of journey just doesn't have enough action for my liking. And to introduce a murder mystery in a plot and not solve it? Well, that's just cheating.

I may never win any literary prizes in my writing career. I'm not even claiming to be all that good a writer. I just want to tell a story that has a beginning, a middle and and end. And preferably a horrible death somewhere along the line.

'Genre' fiction gets bad press sometimes, perceived as somewhat low-brow. But I'm happy to stick with my crime, horror and urban fantasy stories. Generally I'm in for an enjoyable read. And I'm also fairly confident I'll get a proper ending.

No comments: