Friday, May 23, 2014

The Story is the Thing

I haven’t had much time for reading lately, but I try to dip my toe into the proverbial TBR pile once a week even if it means listening to an audible book or library CD to refresh my stale creativity.

This week between customers, I was listening to Nice
Girls Don’t Live Forever by Molly Harper. I have all of her books on Audible which is a fun way to read her.

Ms. Harper is the queen of double entendre. With her first person narrative you get a real sense of the heroine’s character. The never-ending stream of witty dialogue intrigued me as I discovered I didn’t grow tired of the book and put it down unfinished.

I started looking at it in depth to determine her secret. She is a former reporter so she has the journalism skills but in fiction, so many books that start out strong, especially ones that rely on humor, begin to limp before the halfway point. That’s when I find myself putting them down.

This book was different. What I discovered was that this writer is an exceptional plotter. I’ll use the word effortless because I can imagine being in a brainstorming session with her where she just runs non-stop with plot ideas.

I thought of my own issues when I get stalled in dialogue – not so much a matter of how characters will react but what has happened to cause the reaction. In Dead Girls Don’t Live Forever plot threads are no problem. Molly Harper has a seemingly endless supply of quirky events and family drama that keep the characters interacting, page after page, with no let-up.

So again, I return to my theory that “It’s the story, stupid.” Ms. Harper’s writing is top notch, but how often have you read a book where you had to know the ending even though the writing wasn’t that good? It keeps you going. I highly recommend her books.

But I’m wondering, what keeps you reading? Is it humor? Plot? Emotion? Lyrical description? Witty dialogue?

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