reading · Writing

No Plot? No Problem?: What You Like In A Book

The book No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty poses this question: What, to you, makes a good novel?

This is supposed to a pre-NaNo list, and this is probably a bit late. Not only am I deep into my NaNo, but so are a lot of other people.

But I like the question and even if I wasn’t doing NaNo, it is still good to answer it, huh? Or come as close as I can.

  1. vivid description
  2. interesting characters
  3. good world-building
  4. interesting premise (i.e. something that doesn’t make think: Oh, it is like that book/movie/show)
  5. at least one character I would love to follow through the whole book/series.

Having made this list, I realize one thing: plot isn’t in this list.

Oh, yes, I say something about premise. But that’s vague and could be almost anything really.

The books that I remember, that I talk most about, are the ones with something else.

When I tell people about the Anita Blake books, I say: Anita Blake raises zombies for a living. Sometimes they are used for legal issues, wills and insurance, even criminal cases. She also kills vampires, but they are legal, so she needs a court order before she can kill them. I also tell them to avoid the later books, just stick with the first 8 or 9.

I say nothing about the plot. Well, those things could be plot points (and are sometimes) but I almost never describe a whole plot to someone.

So I guess plot isn’t all that not important to me in the books I read. That is just such an odd thought.

Does anyone else describe books like that to other people?


8 thoughts on “No Plot? No Problem?: What You Like In A Book

  1. When I describe a book to someone I usually start describing my favorite character and then what the story made me feel, whether it made me cry, laugh or touched me some other way. Then maybe the premise of the story.

    Yes it’s odd, plot is important, but not the top of my list either.

    1. I do that sometimes too! I go into my own feelings only for the really emotional books though.

      It is odd! You would think plot would be om the top of the list of things to talk about.

  2. I’ll hit people with a superficial premise if I want them to try it, but I generally go into description of plot or character arcs, because that’s what carries across the book, and so that’s what affected me. A book’s premise doesn’t matter once I’ve started reading it; the execution of it does, which is plot.

    1. The execution of the premise? Yeah. It matters and I guess you talk about it to other people. I just usually don’t. But I talk about character arcs, too.

  3. I’m definitely a reader that likes a strong plot. Premise, character, and world-building are important parts, but I’ll quit before I have a chance to appreciate them if the book doesn’t move. I guess I still read like a 13-year-old boy, but what can I say?

    1. aww you have to give slow moving books a chance! Okay, having said that, if a book doesn’t grab me after the first 50/100 pages, I am likely to put it down. It needs something, something to make me keep reading.

  4. I think plot is important to me, it what makes a book work or not work so to speak. Characters are important, they need to be rounded to be believable, showing all sides of their coin, but without a strong plot there is nothing to hold a book together.

    Just my humble opinion.

    1. Oh, wow, it’s always been the other way for me. I can tolerate a mediocre plot if I love the characters. The other way around, I have a tendency to skip or skim through the book.

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