I’m learning a lot more about what makes a book “readable” or not. This is completely unrelated to the plot, characters, and themes. You can excel in all of these things and still not have a readable book. What makes a book “readable” for you?

Here is what turns a book from a “nice read” to a “fantastic read”, for me:

  • The book begins by developing an emotional attachment in me to the character. Ways to do this: sympathy, mystery, thrills, a problem
  • The book stays on the story path of the main character and side characters without too many switch-offs and rabbit trails. Some are interesting, but too many are confusing.
  • There is balance between the time spent describing the inner emotions of the character and time spend on their actions. If the balance is off, you get cold, unlovable characters or you get sappy characters and a lagging story line.
  • There is mystery/suspense in the plot, but I am clued in subtly throughout. It is a tough balance between excitement and confusion, understanding and over-explanation.
  • The writing is done in uncomplicated style, but using correct grammar, punctuation, and word usage. It isn’t as vital in character dialogue, but in the story body it is absolutely necessary. The wrong use of a word or an awkward sentence snags my whole attention and I lose track of all the nougat-y goodness of the book.
  • There is a definite conflict going on that unfolds throughout the story. A simple series of events can occasionally draw me in but it takes some pretty fantastic writing for that to happen. Excitement generated by love, danger, rivalry, and/or tragedy helps draw me through the story.
  • Humor doesn’t work in every story, but when it does, it really enhances my enjoyment. I really enjoy “serious humor” in a story that might not have room for outright silliness. I define “serious humor” as passive humor that results from character circumstances that would otherwise not contain humor.


Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Readability

  1. Jane Laysen

    For me, the most readable books have a subtley poetic style that makes every sentence a pleasure to read.

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