karen_w_newton (karen_w_newton) wrote,

Recipe for a good story

My reading lately has been varied. In the last few weeks, I finished off How Not To Make A Wish, by mindyklasky, Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne, and The Inferior, by peadarog. Now I have started in on a behemoth— Under the Dome by Stephen King. Reading on a Kindle hides some of the overwhelming impact of door-stopper books, but when I look at my home screen, the little dots under the title that indicate length go most of the way across the screen, just as far as they do for the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy!

I enjoyed all those books. Quite frankly, I have reached a point were if I'm not enjoying the book, I stop reading. But thinking back over all those books, I noticed they all had something in common. Here's a description of each:

•HNTMAW: funny chick-lit fantasy/romance set in the Minneapolis live theater scene
•ATWI80D: adventure travelogue with a love story and a lot of comic scenes
•TI: YA science fiction that reads a lot like fantasy and incorporates a love story
•UTD: mysterious, even spooky story set in a small New England town; huge cast of characters including a disaffected former soldier; might or might not have a love story subplot but I'm only 33% finished reading it.

So, four different books. What do you think I saw in common with all of them? it's not that there was any one thing they all had, it's that they all had multiple things going for them. They all mixed elements of different genres into their own unique story. HNTMAW has some hilarious moments and a lot of local color. TI started out like Clan of the Cave Bear and morphed into 2001: A Space Odyssey. ATWIN80D was a snapshot of how 19th Century Europeans saw the rest of the world, with two very different characters starting out on what was then an incredible journey. I'll probably review UTD when I'm done, but it's already got plenty of local color and it's keeping me guessing if it's got supernatural elements on just science fiction.

That's a good part of the recipe for a good book. You need enough ingredients to make it interesting, but not so many that the reader's palette is overwhelmed.

So, do you have any examples of books that mix it up and come out well? Or any that suffer from too many genres?

FTC Disclosure: I paid for all these books except ATWI80D which was a public domain book free in the Kindle store. Jules Verne never gave me anything!

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Tags: story telling, writing

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