As a writer, it is only obvious that I love books! Reading is the coziest way to travel and escape to another place and explore new realms. However, as a human being, I am quite particular about what I read.
I’ve read some good books in my lifetime, and I’ve read some books that I could have enjoyed, had they not lacked a few minor details. So, without further ado, here is a list of ten things I look for (and absolutely love) in fiction!
1. Realistic Main Character
In my opinion, a story can only be as enjoyable and as saturating as its main character. Besides, this is the very person who is taking you along the journey. Would you rather go on a tour with someone whose voice is so monotonous and bland, that you lose all interest, and forget that you’re even on a journey? Or would you rather travel with someone who brings the journey to life with his expressive tone and colorful language?
Also, when I’m walking through this story with someone, I feel more familiar and invested with this character when I have a vivid image and clear understanding of him. If a writer cannot even tell me this person’s eye color or hair length, why does he care to tell the character’s story?
Lastly, I absolutely cannot read about a person who shows absolutely no emotion throughout the story.
“My best friend was just eaten by a dragon. I’m sad now.”
I mean, okay? That sucks, dude, but I suddenly have the urge not to care.
“Tears burned throughout my eyes as I watched my best friend draw his last breath. My heart shattered, and I felt nothing but the throbbing in my stomach as I knew I would never see him again. Holding his limp, cold hand in my own, I whispered my final goodbye.”
Hold on while I go cry now.
It truly takes a convincing character to tell a convincing story. No matter what events actually take place throughout a book, if the character is boring, then nine times out of ten, the whole journey will be, too.
2. A Funny Sidekick
Whether the book is Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, or whatever, it is good for the main character to have at least one loyal companion—a funny loyal companion for that matter!
As a goofball myself, I tremendously enjoy at least some humor in novels. Ya know, so long as this character doesn’t spoil an intense moment with a corny pun. “So, you’re just gonna freeze us to death? That’s cold, man.”
We’re going to pretend that was actually funny, but you get the picture.
Funny sidekicks are also the best because most genuinely funny people are actually loyal and devoted, so the hilarious best friend just makes the story great altogether.
3. Magic, Magic, and More Magic!
Since I am a total geek for fantasy, I love a story so much more when there is magic involved! Whether the main character is a witch, wizard, elf, fairy, or just some random guy with a magical pebble, a character with magical abilities bring so many flexible possibilities into a story.
Magic can make a story fun or terrifying. For example, a magic wand can help a flying broomstick can take you on an adventure through the sky, but an evil wizard with a magic staph can turn the world into a land full of someone’s worst nightmares.
Literally any form of magic in a book just urges me to keep flipping the pages!
4. An Underlying Romance
I am not a fan of romance novels. However, I love romantic subplots! Romance can be used in literally any fictional genre, and for readers like myself who are hopeless romantics, they make the story more excited and fulfilling.
Intimate relationships inside a story give the reader something a little extra to look forward to between the scattered conflicts of a story. Not to mention that this only makes us happier for the main character. Therefore, those little breath-taking warm fuzzies definitely keep my eyes glued to the book.
This one is a little different. Of course, I’m known to love horror stories as well as fantasy, but I love a good spine-chilling ghost story. But I am also supportive of ghosts outside of horror novels. The novel The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh is a perfect example for this. While this novel does indeed revolve around ghosts and New York underground, the story itself is not scary, despite the three-headed dog Cerberus. Without this mythological monster, the story is actually fun and heartwarming, as well as emotional and sad.
I think ghosts are great characters, as they can show us a life outside of the living. Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book is awesome for this, as a graveyard full of ghosts raise a live child.
Ghosts are even great for helping or warning the main character of certain dangers that lie ahead, like Victor Pascow in Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. This is the ghost of a college student who warns Louis Creed about the soured ground of the sinister cemetery.
Overall, ghosts will always be a go-to for me!
6. Strange Realms
I don’t mind reading a novel that takes place in the real world, but I will always enjoy a story that is set in an entirely different world!
I understand that world building is no easy task. (Believe me. I KNOW!) But when an author puts forth the tremendous effort to bring to life a world created entirely from his or her own imagination, it is entirely captivating! Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, and Chris Colfer’s A Tale of Magic are excellent examples!
For me, the purpose of reading is to escape the world around me to explore in a new realm beyond my own belief. And to enjoy it.
7. Castles and Large Houses
Not only are castles ancient, beautiful architectural structures, but they are also the perfect place for secret passages, history, ghosts, and adventure!
I have always dreamed of living inside an old castle, and to read about one only excites me. I love the idea of exploring a centuries-old building and discovering its many secrets, as well as learning about its past inhabitants.
These kinds of buildings also make for a great deal of suspense for any story. You never know who could be lurking behind the bookcase, or where the secret door behind that painting could lead or what kind of message that ghost in the attic might be trying to tell you.
8. Vampires and Werewolves
Yes. I’m one of those folks.
I don’t care how overdone these tropes are; I will always be prepared to read about a bloodthirsty undead guy or a shapeshifting, howling monster!
Vampires are so eerie and blood curdling (pun intended), and they are altogether a classic! Ya know, when they don’t sparkle. Sorry, Edward. And werewolves are just perfect for monster stories!
Many frown upon these tropes and say that have been worn out, but I disagree. These two creatures will always hold a place in my nerdy little heart.
I’ve already said that I love magic, but the idea of witchcraft in novels really spikes my interest! Burning candles, reading tea leaves, gazing into a crystal ball, tarot cards, tying knots—Believe that I will definitely read it!
Need a way for a character to learn that he is about to go through something dreadful? Throw a fortune-telling witch in there! A character cannot find her true love? Throw a love spell in there! The main character’s life is going too smoothly? Throw a curse in there!
Witchcraft (not the devil stuff) is already an interesting topic, but when one of the characters is a witch, it only bends the physical laws both the character and the reader already know.
Witches in general are already interesting characters. They can interact with those beyond the grave, brew potions, make and break curses, and twist any novel’s plot with the snap of their fingers. Literally! Whether a witch is a protagonist or an antagonist, she can add so many paranormal possibilities to any novel!
10. Unique Character Traits
I’ve already spoken about realistic characters, but I really admire a character who is not afraid to be different. Why read about a typical girl with blonde hair who wears skirts and floral blouses like every other girl in her life, when you can read about a girl who wears ripped jeans, a Beatles T-shirt, has wild hair, and sports a couple piercings or tattoos?
I cannot stand to read about a typical Jane. It’s YOUR character! Make her YOURS! What makes her different from all the other millions of females in literature? Does she have a distinct walk? A funny accent? Can she juggle? Is she a cat person? Raccoon person? Does she have the ability to actually be her own person?
Unique, diverse characters make for unique, diverse stories, so why limit yourself? Give the character an uncommon name, his or her own style, his or her own personality. When a character lacks depth and individuality, the reader can actually get bored.
As a writer, do not be afraid to express yourself through your character. Writing is an art, so treat your character like so.
There you have it! What are some specific things you like to read about? What is your favorite genre? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!
If you haven’t already, you can follow me on Twitter @KaylaMclaney, and you can follow my Fiction with Kay page on Facebook, and you can follow me on Instagram!
I hope y’all enjoyed, and I hope y’all have a fantastic night! And as always, Keep Reading!