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Seer of ghosts & weaver of stories

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December Blogging Meme Topics #16 & #17
Are there things that will always make you back away when reading a story?

Are there things that are guaranteed to make you keep reading a story?

On the first count, character-torture for no reason other than to be gratuitously cruel to both characters and readers turns me right off. I won't stand for it, especially not when those characters have already been through enough. If the hardship doesn't result in significant character growth or demonstrable benefit to the plot, forget it, I'm out. I have a hard time with gaslighting, but I can't remember the last time I put something down solely because it was there (again: if character and plot development result, chances are I'll stay). I have an easier time reading descriptions of certain kinds of graphic violence than I do watching depictions of same, although there are some varieties I can't even read about (bone injuries don't go over well).

The two other reliable turn-offs, I guess, are a) overwrought prose that's condescending to the reader and b) poor grasp of grammar and spelling. And, yes, I do take ability, age, education level, and experience into account. The the more clues I have that the writer in question should know better, the less I can abide glaring technical errors.

Otherwise, what will keep me reading depends entirely on how the writer handles, well, everything in a given piece. I'm aware that's probably far too open-ended an answer for anyone's taste, but I've encountered works of literature in which things that don't even generally interest me are handled in such a compelling fashion that I'm riveted!

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In cases where that is the plot, though, I usually consider it gratuitous and purposeless because, in my view, pain for pain's sake does not equal worthwhile narrative. Maybe it is for some, but not for me. My life contains a high enough default anxiety level to begin with. In most cases, I'm not going to learn more by watching the characters I love suffer more than the developmental arc's actual requirements.

Edited at 2014-12-17 07:21 pm (UTC)

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