Three words that convey the meaning of six will always look better than twelve...
Help a (Koch) brother out: Scotty for President!
--August, anytime: probably Houston
I must must must CARE about the main character.
With A Catcher in the Rye, I HATED, loathed, despised the MC. I was praying for his demise throughout the entire book. I wanted to be able to say that I read that miserable p.o.s. so I continued onward...
Don't give me details that I do not need. It must be woven in to the story somehow or MEAN something. Don't give me the microscopic details of how your MC gets ready in the morning- I'm pretty sure most of us do the same boring sh&t. lol Just say he got ready for work!!
Just saw this quote from Tom Clancy- "The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense."
I want to recognize something of myself in a character. A shared emotion, a shared experience, similar personality traits...or at least traits that make the character likable. I like seeing something I can identify with, or something I'd like to be myself.
Deal breakers- completely unsympathetic MC, too much whining, not enough happening in the story/story is unbelievable.
Then I'm pretty much good to go.
I am pretty forgiving honestly. The only real big thing I don't like are Mary-Sue/Gary-Stu-like characters. You know, ones that are insanely beautiful, have great clothes, great car, great friends, perfect job, and their lives are just awesome until [enter problem here] happens but it really doesn't affect them not really.
I also don't like it when books go on and on about what a character has on. I can understand a few things; I'm a lot more forgiving if it's a special occasion or has a special purpose in the book, for example, a wedding. But, I don't like it when a character's clothes get described from their shoes to the top of their head. I know sometimes it's necessary because the writer is trying to show that the character likes fashion, clothes, or is slightly conceited but it's still just....slightly irritating to read sometimes.
I'm in the same boat here, I just can't read present tense (unless it's a short story). For me the pacing or rhythm just isn't there. Then again, I actually enjoy 3rd-omni so maybe I'm just more of an observer than a have-to-see-it-through-their-eyes-in-the-moment reader.
I have to have an engaging story - it has to keep moving, be something I'm interested in, and be somewhat realistic. I'll toss the book or skip chapters if it misses on any one of those.
But I must really like the writing style to continue. I think I've lost patience over the years and will give up in a hurry (normally first chapter) if it's purple prose or amateurish (telling not showing, etc). I often wonder how some of these got through an agent, editor, and publisher. Because I don't finish the books, I never know (even if I did finish, I probably wouldn't get it either). My tastes just don't match the best seller's list sometimes.
I find that for many of these posts on AW about reading, that I am in the minority when it comes to liking certain things or books. I used to read what was popular in order to learn learn from them, but I found I disliked many of them (for various reasons) and gave up that route.
Seems like I've found:
Good Story (Idea) + Bad Writing + Good or Bad Plotting > Average Story + Good Writing + Good Plotting
As someone on here said, "just write what others want to read." Sounds easy enough.
I have over the years become reconciled to reading the present tense in novels. I'll write very short stories in the present, but my favorite use for it is for flashbacks and heightened reality/altered consciousness scenes in a past tense novel. Used sparingly, it retains some punch.
Make me think. It doesn't have to be super-profound, but if all I wanted were entertainment I could go watch rush hour traffic.
Besides that, it depends on why I'm reading. If I started a novel because I've read work by that writer before and liked it, or if the concept, cover or title caught my attention, then it's safe from being abandoned unless it takes an unexpected turn for the patently asinine.
If I started reading a novel because I'd heard a lot about it, or because anyone I know to be a good writer (published or not) likes it, I actually have a formula. They have the first 30 pages to make me care enough about at least one major character to keep reading. This holds true regardless of whether it's an 800-page doorstopper or a 70-page novela.
I need to forget I'm reading. That involves not being able to see the brush strokes, no matter how masterful they are.
A brush stroke I've never been able to not see is third person present. Nails on a blackboard. I can get past any other tense and person.
It should help me see the world a little bit better.
It needs a character that I love (or love to hate) and a situation that's believable on some level. Other than that I'm not too fussy.
If I start something I'll usually finish it no matter how dire it is. I think you can learn something from the worst books as well as the best.
Meet April the aye aye and Cecil the shark at www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jilly61
or, for those working in GBP www.kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=jill+tinker
Course you could always go straight to Amazon.