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Action vs Characterization

June 1, 2006

I’ve always been a romance reader that thrived on action in romances. That could be because one of the first romance books I read was Karen Robbards, Night Magic, one of my favorites. In fact a lot of her books are what I’ve discovered are often called “road romances” with the characters on a journey/adventure of sorts and spending lots of time alone together. These books aren’t easy to come across. Which is probably why I like to write them. A lot of my books (both written and in progress) are with the characters on the move for one reason or another. I live for the escape when I read, and nothing gives me that more than a romantic adventure with a good dose of suspense.


Over on Romancing the Blog a point was made about good writing and raised the point (both the original poster and some commenters)whether or not Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code was really good writing, or just a good plot. A few people said his book seriously lacked characterization, and had too many cliffhanger chapter endings. Personally I thought those chapter endings were great. They drove me insane, but I had to keep reading. Maybe they were predictable in that sense but it made it difficult to book the down.

A few other people said, it was a good book, but they wouldn’t read it twice. Not enough characterization. Then another author spoke up and said that a lot of authors reveal their characters more through plot than a lot of internal dialogue. I hadn’t looked at it that way and yet it made sense. Neither of the characters in Dan Brown’s book had any lengthy inner narrative, but I still felt like I had a pretty good feel for the characters.

Before I started writing, “internal dialogue” and “how much plot is too much” didn’t cross my mind at all. Either the book was good and held my attention, or not. Nowadays in the writing world its heavily stressed “more characterization”, but I can’t help but look at Dan Brown’s success and think the guy did something right.

To me whether a book has a lot of characterization and “inner dialogue” or whether it’s one cliffhanger after another doesn’t mean a whole lot at the end of the day.

A good book is a good book. Period.

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