The Best Part

Piece of CakeThere are many, many parts to a good story; the characters, the setting, the plot, the side-stories, the genre, the dialect, and the list could go on for days at the very least. Each of these pieces contributes to the overall story, whether in a positive or negative way. Writing these parts is one thing, but reading them another.

It’s hard for an author to consistently lay out what is in their mind for a reader. Think about trying to describe something unfathomable to someone, as I’m sure you’ve had to do before. Something unbelievable, something that exists in its reality only to you until you tell another exactly what you can see and feel in the depths of your mind. And to do it in a way that they can actually see what you saw, or feel what you felt is unspeakably difficult. That’s what’s it’s like for a writer, especially one of fiction, to write an entire story in a way that engages, interests, and flows for you, the reader.

Because we all read, understand, and experience things differently—from menial everyday tasks, to situations unique to ourselves—I’m guessing that we all favor different parts of stories. Of course, you want the story to be well-written, but we each have our own perception of what exactly that is, so it isn’t as simple as black and white.

I tend to enjoy the characters and the setting best in stories. That’s most-likely why I prefer fiction. I want the characters and their actions to sing to me. If they smell something foul, I want to smell it too. If they feel the sting of a blade in battle, I want to feel it too. I want to feel as if I am there, and I want to feel as if whatever is happening in the story is happening to me as well.

My first real acknowledgement of this was a long time ago, probably when I was around 9 years-old. I was reading a book that I am quite unable to relocate called “Starr”. It was about a fox, and the cover was cloth bound and a bit ratty, but still solid and comforting. The fox, Starr, described his life as an animal, and when he would run through streams or feel snow crunch beneath his paws I reveled in the sensation. The deep, moist smell of bark and fallen leaves would fill my nostrils, even while sitting inside of a classroom in the middle of the winter.

Just because Starr was a fox, it did not mean that I couldn’t relate to his story. At that time, I probably wanted nothing more than to be a fox, because I am easily swayed by words and my imagination takes a firmer hold than it should. I was enveloped by the character and the setting, even though I’m not one for forests. I saw things from his perspective and it made me love them.

But that’s just me. There are many other facets to even a short story, and each aspect is unique to the reader. While I enjoy the things I mentioned above, many others might find them tedious.

I, on the other hand, am not a fan of artistic writing, and I don’t care much for lengthy bits of prose or song. I lose interest when things become too “modern” in a story, and I’m not a fan of drama. Although those are very specific, I find that things such as long monologues, lack of description, and limited vocabulary lead my mind to wander when reading.

The cherry on top of a good story, for me, is whatever makes me feel like I am there. That’s the best part, the part that adds to an already interesting piece, the part that makes me spend an entire day dragging a book along.

What about you? What’s the best part of the story when you are the one reading it?

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20 thoughts on “The Best Part

  1. I’m a character/plot girl. I want the plot to move along at a good pace without a lot of description. And I want to care about the characters. I’ve occasionally been halfway through a book and said, “Ugh! I don’t even care what happens to these people.” Then I’m finished reading it.

  2. Certainly it’s the link I form with the characters keeps me reading, and anything that ignites my senses – especially evocative descriptions of tastes and smells. I want to be right there alongside the characters, sharing the feast!

  3. I like the characters, and watching them as they try to save the day or save themselves or maybe just find happiness. IT’s that feeling of not knowing what will happen next that makes it the most enjoyable, and finding out with your characters as it does happen. It’s a thrill for me.

  4. My favorite part of reading is when the words fade, and the story becomes alive before my own eyes in vivid color. I can see, smell, feel, and hear everything that is being described on the page. My least favorite part of reading is when the vision is abruptly ended, and I find myself sitting alone with my book with a deep inner ache for the beauty that I just experienced. The most real part of this experience is the emotions that race through you from the characters that capture a glimpse of. I relish in their victory and weep at their failures. By the time I am done reading a book, I am physically and emotionally exhausted from the rush that a good story can bring. Why can’t textbooks be written like fiction?

    • Oh, if only! Well said! I feel like that too, at the end of a good book, but it all comes back when I read it again. I’m devouring a book now, and my only solace is that it’s part of a long series.

      • I’m at school right now, so most of my reading is textbooks and research journals. However, I am reading Great Expectations, so I am getting some pleasure reading in. Dickens surely creates amusing characters!

  5. The best part is when a sympathetic character (meaning someone like me or whom I would feel comfortable with) has to figure out a problem that is also intriguing. For example, the narrator in Barbara Vine’s A Dark-Adapted Eye. Ambiguous endings are maddening but irresistible; often I will re-read such a book, trying to figure out the truth.

    • I’ve not read that one yet, I will have to take a look. I know what you mean though, there are may books that I have re-read over and over only to peer once more into the soul of a character.

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