Posted by: oneyearbook | April 10, 2009

April: a contest

(You have to read the previous post for this one to make sense, by the way.)

Writing a novel that has ‘it’ is still my goal, but what ‘it’ comprises has changed, I think, over the years, although I still have a strong reaction, that same feeling, when I go back and read L.M. Montgomery books.

But what I’m looking for now is to find out what ‘it’ is for other people – not when they’re aiming to write a novel, but when they’re reading. What’s one (or more) element – be it plot, setting, character, style, genre, idea, focus, or some other intangible – that makes you excited when you pick up a book to read? When you read a description of a book on Amazon that you’ve never heard of before, what makes you consider whipping out the ol’ plastic? What, casting a mental eye over your favorite books, do you find is a unifying element? Can you name your ‘it’ or does it dance around, just out of your sight?

Anyway this is this month’s contest; the prize is unchanged: a signed copy of a page from the first draft of my novel. It will be a different page than was won in the previous contest, meaning that you will be the possessor of a unique item. [Edit] Taking Katy’s suggestion in the comments, the winner will be chosen by a random number generator, with your number assigned by the order of the comments [end edit]; entries are open until the end of April. This one is an easy one, people: you could come on here and comment, “There’s absolutely nothing similar about any of the books I like and some days I only want to read humour and some days if it doesn’t have politics and a surprise ending I won’t touch it with a twenty-foot pole,” and I would be happy and you would be entered in the contest. So get cracking!



  1. For me it sort of depends. I think setting and mood have a lot to do with it. I’ve always been attracted to John Irving’s books because I really, really love his descriptions of Maine (The fog! The beach! The rain! The lobsters!) Which settings I’m drawn to can really change depending on my mood, though. I’m not generally into books set in hot places, though, come to think of it. I’ve picked up many a book set in India only to put it down again. And something about the setting of Afghanistan has always deterred me from reading The Kite Runner, though I can’t pinpoint why.

    I also tend to prefer books that are dense, and not too romantically/poetically written. If I like the style of writing, then I want them to be long: 600-900 pages is great. John Irving and Wally Lamb tend to do this well, for me.

    If I had to pick my favourite books of all time, I would say the Little House series… I must have read them forty times when I was young. Something about the country setting and the doing-it-from-scratch thing has always appealed to me as well.

  2. PS – if you tire of the drawing-a-name-out-of-a-hat thing for your contests, you could always use the random number generator to pick a comment # as the winner. And the bonus is you can post a screenshot of the winner 🙂

  3. Hello, I’ve deided to chime in. Human weakness. In all the books I care for, few as they may be, I am inclined most towards a strong character who I can pity and relate to. Philandering drunks, self deprecating and medicating their ways though a plot strung together with an an audiance to despise them for their many, many failures ( and maybe a side kick like Terry Crabtree to encourage it all the same). There is something beautiful in the slow and savoured suicide of a protagonist. – And maybe if you’re feeling sappy (as I generally am) redeem them in some impossibily silly way…

  4. interconnection
    if one character is described on the back of the book and detailed about how things affect them and bla, bla, bla it can be ok. if a couple-three characters are involved I get interested. It might be my short attention span feeling there will be interest throughout the book…

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