As promised, here are the things I LOVE to see in a novel:
1. A beach or lake setting
3. Perspectives of characters from different generations as they experience the same events
4. Romantic relationships in progress
5. All relationships in progress, actually (I'm not a big fan of new characters showing up in chapter thirty-six.)
6. Meaningful spirituality
8. Details about unique family rituals
And another list of things that I'm not such a fan of:
1. Hopeless settings
2. Love that seems so impossible that it hurts to watch
3. Stereotypes of beleaguered new moms
4. Plots that hinge on a character making a choice I don't think s/he'd actually make
5. Cats, hamsters, gerbils
6. One-dimensional bad guys (or girls)
7. Unbelievable careers
8. Unrelenting personal devastation
9. Characters that seem unconnected to anyone or anything
10. Sad endings
Now YOU might be just the opposite: you might hate a story about brothers who train dogs on the beach as their Uncle looks on and does tai chi...and love a story about a lonely spinster who had to give up her gerbil collection because she found a baby on the front steps and hasn't showered in three weeks but must find a way to fend off the evil mayor who is determined to take down the house that has been in her family for generations so he can build a strip club....
You get the idea. We all like different things, and that is a spectacular thing. But as we go into our book project on Saturday, I found it really helpful to think about what I like and what I don't, so I can make sure me and my characters are hanging out in a place we want to be. How about you?
I'll close with a great quote from Jeanine Mason, one of the contestants on So You Think You Can Dance:
"This whole experience has shown me that I'm capeable of so much more than I give myself credit for."
I'm believing that in 42 days, at the end of this adventure, we'll be able to say the same :)