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27 July 2012 @ 02:55 pm
READABOUT: what do you like in a story?  
Hi and welcome to ReadAbout, a poll for readers of fiction of any kind.

I realize that, for a lot of these, it all depends on how well it's done - but think about your favorite books, the ones you keep coming back to again and again and again, the type of stories/characters that you look for every time you pick up a book. If there's check boxes, please try to only select two or three options. And if you have any questions, comments, or want to elaborate on any of your answers, please leave a comment!! I would love in-depth reasoning behind any of the choices, or even just spaztic "yes, this!"

Also, if you have friends who read, please post a link in your journal/on any relevant communities.

Poll #1856733 ReadAbout

What primary focus do you enjoy reading about most?

romance/relationship development
52(19.7%)
slice of life/everyday things
25(9.5%)
adventure plot/action
55(20.8%)
fantasy world/setting/society
61(23.1%)
personal growth/character development
71(26.9%)

What makes you keep turning the pages?

suspense- what's going to happen next?
76(29.2%)
character interaction
82(31.5%)
to see more of the world
35(13.5%)
beautiful writing/imagery
48(18.5%)
to see if character x and z get together or not
19(7.3%)

What character traits are you usually drawn to? (ie, That Character that's always your favorite)

relatability/normality
20(4.6%)
secret heart of gold
34(7.8%)
steady support/good friend
23(5.3%)
charisma/flamboyance
34(7.8%)
intelligence/cleverness
85(19.5%)
integrity/true to values/morals
40(9.2%)
gray/dubious morality
47(10.8%)
boneheaded bravery/awesomeness
16(3.7%)
self-confidence
25(5.7%)
shyness/social awkwardness
25(5.7%)
catty/scathing tongue
33(7.6%)
black-hearted
13(3.0%)
selflessness/kindness
21(4.8%)
physically attractive
17(3.9%)
physically unattractive
3(0.7%)

Here's some more! Try to pick only a few that you feel Really Strongly about.

wisdom/common sense
40(11.5%)
self-flagellating/pitying
7(2.0%)
competence/mastery of skills
41(11.7%)
curiosity/willingness to learn
39(11.2%)
open-hearted/loving
10(2.9%)
stone-hearted/closed off/distant
14(4.0%)
physically strong
9(2.6%)
physically weak
4(1.1%)
not entirely sane
43(12.3%)
promiscuity/sexually open
28(8.0%)
blushing virgin/innocent
6(1.7%)
artistic/creative/daydreamer
30(8.6%)
focused/determined
34(9.7%)
courageous/able to overcome fear
38(10.9%)
OTHER: will list in comments
6(1.7%)

If you had to choose, which one of these could save an otherwise terrible book?

the writing style
26(24.1%)
the main characters
39(36.1%)
the side characters
10(9.3%)
the action plot
11(10.2%)
the love plot
5(4.6%)
the concepts
7(6.5%)
the morals
0(0.0%)
the worldbuilding
10(9.3%)

And which would be a deal-breaker, if it's done wrong?

the writing style
46(43.0%)
the main characters
23(21.5%)
the side characters
0(0.0%)
the action plot
5(4.7%)
the love plot
11(10.3%)
the concepts
5(4.7%)
the morals
12(11.2%)
the worldbuilding
5(4.7%)

What's your favorite kind of PRIMARY plot?

a relationship developing (romantic or otherwise)
15(14.0%)
a quest for an object/person/action
27(25.2%)
political maneuvering
12(11.2%)
fulfulling a prophecy/destiny
7(6.5%)
personal growth/enlightenment
24(22.4%)
bad guy(s) doing bad things someone must stop it
15(14.0%)
coincidence/sequence of chance events
7(6.5%)

What's your favorite type of SECONDARY plot?

a relationship developing (romantic or otherwise)
35(32.4%)
a quest for an object/person/action
16(14.8%)
political maneuvering
10(9.3%)
fulfulling a prophecy/destiny
5(4.6%)
personal growth/enlightenment
27(25.0%)
bad guy(s) doing bad things someone must stop it
6(5.6%)
coincidence/sequence of chance events
9(8.3%)
none
0(0.0%)

What drives the best of stories?

the protagonist's motives
47(43.9%)
the antagonist's motives
19(17.8%)
outside motives - prophecy, legacy, etc
12(11.2%)
societal impact
7(6.5%)
moral consequences
12(11.2%)
random chance
10(9.3%)

What 'conquers all'?

love and friendship
48(17.6%)
justice and goodness
16(5.9%)
hard work and patience
27(9.9%)
courage and fortitude
29(10.7%)
knowledge and quick thinking
52(19.1%)
power and strength
10(3.7%)
timing and planning
28(10.3%)
money and status
5(1.8%)
forgiveness and change
36(13.2%)
truth and humility
21(7.7%)

Which issue would concern you MOST if it was badly dealt with?

Same-sex relationships
15(14.3%)
Gender identity
6(5.7%)
Race portrayal
18(17.1%)
Whitewashing
3(2.9%)
Gender portrayal
27(25.7%)
Animal rights
4(3.8%)
Slavery
1(1.0%)
Power exchange relationships
12(11.4%)
Polyamory
2(1.9%)
Ableism
3(2.9%)
Mental health
14(13.3%)

Which issue would concern you LEAST?

Same-sex relationships
8(7.7%)
Gender identity
4(3.8%)
Race portrayal
4(3.8%)
Whitewashing
4(3.8%)
Gender portrayal
1(1.0%)
Animal rights
35(33.7%)
Slavery
6(5.8%)
Power exchange relationships
11(10.6%)
Polyamory
23(22.1%)
Ableism
5(4.8%)
Mental health
3(2.9%)

Are you willing to forgive a lack of research in the name of a good story?

Sure, as long as it's entertaining
6(5.6%)
Sure, but there are one or two things that I just personally wouldn't be able to forgive
12(11.1%)
Only some, little details aren't important but it should at least make sense
34(31.5%)
Only some, little details aren't important but a concerted effort has to be made
28(25.9%)
Not really, inaccurate information takes the enjoyment out
18(16.7%)
Not really, it's unprofessional
5(4.6%)
No way. There's no excuse for a lack of research.
5(4.6%)

And lastly, what's your favorite kind of ending?

a cliffhanger!! AAAHHH!!!! where's the next book?!
4(3.7%)
a solid round-up with a gentle tease for more
54(50.5%)
mind-blowing revelation that changes the whole book
32(29.9%)
and they all lived happily ever after!
10(9.3%)
cut to black/left a mystery
7(6.5%)
...IT WAS ALL A DREAM THE WHOLE TIME.
0(0.0%)
 
 
 
Tove :)twissie on July 27th, 2012 07:06 pm (UTC)
What character traits draw me in greatly depends on the kind of story I'm reading. Of course anything relatable will instantly make me "favour" that character (in lack of a better way to explain it), but my favourite characters tend to be antagonists, very disturbed main characters, or misunderstood side characters. They're just a lot more interesting than the characters I relate to.
➵ she walks in starlight: pjo / the lightning thiefigrab on July 27th, 2012 07:14 pm (UTC)
yes, i'm definitely looking for what your favorite characters are - i use the term 'relatable' to mean the literary relatable, the 'everyman' kind of character that's supposed to be an average of the target audience. percy jackson, bella swan, the Straight White Male in most mainstream stories, etc.
Tove :)twissie on July 27th, 2012 07:19 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I find there are very few characters I can actually relate to, so I always need to find other things to hook me.

I guess characters really come second to me when I read. It's not like I ignore them, of course, that would make reading rather pointless, but themes, plot, atmosphere, writing style (and probably other things) are the main things that make me read.
pax: book vaultpax_athena on July 27th, 2012 07:35 pm (UTC)
Characters - that's really complicated! Mental strength and self-reliance are important. But then again there are other characters whom I love for the very lack of them. Fighting against the pressure from outside. Being able to change - but not changing because others want one to. Being a good leader - even though I generally fall for the second in command (whom I usually think to be a much better leader). Handicaps, physical and mental, and people living with them, finding a way to work around them and with them. Characters who struggle to get free of the influence of some higher power, whether gods or prophecies or whatever.
-- Err, you see, there are too many things I like. It highly depends on the story I'm reading (and sometimes on the gender of the character; I'm much more into strong, cold women then men as characters).

A while ago I sat down and wrote down 101 things I like in fiction. Not sure whether this is going to help, but I find it easier to write down my own ideas than to choose from a number of offered possibilities.
E.g., I went with "personal growth/enlightenment" as the favourite primary plot, since there are books I like which follow this route. But I guess usually it's more something like "changing the society" that I'm most interested in. This often does go hand in hand with personal growth, but personal growth without the big political/societal implication tends to bore me. ("political maneuvering" means something different to me - it can be part of "change the society", but does not have to.)
babykid528: B&B: Readingbabykid528 on July 27th, 2012 07:40 pm (UTC)
Oh man, I couldn't answer "Which issue would concern you LEAST?" lol! I AM TOO CONCERNED OVER ALL THE THINGS!!! (I should have said Animal Rights, but it pained me too much to choose.)
Ariel: gabe fingerskatieupsidedown on July 27th, 2012 08:29 pm (UTC)
When I was filling out this poll I was thinking a lot about Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond books and a little about Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint as being really excellent examples of the sort of fiction that really enthralls me. Both are heavily focused on the interaction and development of characters, and both have highly intelligent heroes with somehow dubious morals. I enjoy more typical fantastic quest stories as well, but with those I'm often far more interested in the supporting cast than I am in the focal characters.
ariadnechan: bad girlariadnechan on July 27th, 2012 08:34 pm (UTC)
I really like your poll!

I have missed you how are you?

About the poll

If you had to choose, which one of these could save an otherwise terrible book?

I had to add writing style but there was radio buttons so worldbuilding and writing style.


And which would be a deal-breaker, if it's done wrong?

Main characters and writing style


Also it would be awesome at a third focus a political background, i love Dune for example for that and other books.

Issues that turn me off:


Ableism and bulling
Incest
Physical Hurting animals

Issues that turn me off except they are resolved in the story so good wins versus evil

Racism
Homophobic view


About the ending depends of the book

If it is fantasy or poetic, maybe it was a dream the all time or a solid round up with a tease is enough

If it is action mistery, cut to black, left to mistery... It is good, because then you left open door for the reader and for a sequel as well, an also solid round up with a tease would be good

So i needed more boxes an less radio buttons :P but is a really good






Gillian: Dogsbodygillianinoz on July 27th, 2012 09:06 pm (UTC)
I don't like promiscuity/sexually open as one category. One can be sexually open without being promiscuous.

Interesting poll.

(Deleted comment)
Alibi: Bones-- Hodgins looking to sidealibi2014 on July 28th, 2012 07:40 am (UTC)
This really made me think! A lot of the options reminded me of some of my favorite characters/books/etc, so thank you for that trip down memory lane!

What are you going to do with the results, if I may ask? Just curious!
neon footprint: readingneon_footprint on July 28th, 2012 08:45 am (UTC)
I said outside motives drive the story, but I feel I should explain that I don't mean some greater power, necessarily. I mean that there are things going on that are outside the control of the characters, possibly quite human things like governments or work or whatever, possibly entirely other-worldly the fates are messing with us things, but either way the characters can't drive the narrative exactly how they want to.

I also don't think anything conquers all. Bleak, but there you have it.
Fran: avengers: ballsy humansbranquignole on July 28th, 2012 10:40 am (UTC)
Oh God, this was so hard to fill out. Especially the deal-breaker question because COME ON, let's face it, all of these are a deal-breaker to me if badly done. In the end, I went for the love plot because, as a hard-core feminist at heart, this is something that bugs me a lot about many books I think I could have loved otherwise; THERE IS STILL TOO MUCH RAPE CULTURE CRAP PRESENT IN ALL KINDS OF FICTION FFS.

As for my primary focus: you can draw me in with anything fantasy/worldbuilding when it's cleverly done. Worldbuilding totally turns me on, negl. I'm always on the hunt for new fantasy that will make me hold my breath in awe of the magical systems/geography/society/etc etc. Romance is always a bonus, though not a must.

I love it when a character knows what they bring to the yard, and gods help me but I have a strong competence kink, and I just really like it when people are good at things. Not the kind of 'I woke up one day and could suddenly do the most amazing spells' good but the kind of good that is a mix both of natural talent and exercise. And as important as the protagonist's motives are to the story what really drives the plot and all of the characters' actions are the antagonist's motives. Especially when they remain kind of foggy throughout the story and there is some FIGURING OUT TO BE DONE.

But anyway (this comment got a little out of hand), thing what you should keep in mind concerning polls: they're always just a generalisation of tastes. Sometimes I like things that are the exact opposite of what I ticky-boxed here. Also, the things I focus most strongly on are not always what draws me to a character in the first place. Sometimes I just feel drawn to a character because they're really ~sexy, and though physical attractiveness is definitely not enough to keep me interested over a long period of time it tends to make me notice other things about a character; like how fucking awesome they are with a bow and arrow, or how much I believe they're secretly good, y'know?

anneka_nekoanneka_neko on July 28th, 2012 12:21 pm (UTC)
Pffff I'm so easy on characters. I mean. I WANT THEM TO BE GOOD, OF COURSE, but. The primary point is they'd better be doing something crazy and awesome like solving murders or saving worlds or whatnot. DO NOT WASTE MY TIME, etc.

But then of course, that's for books, and fanfic is completely 100% different, because that's ALL ABOUT the characters, and who the hell cares if there's a plot so long as CHARACTERS ARE INTERACTING?

And the most important thing is world-building, and the best way to do that is to be a goddamn cocktease. Like how in Harry Potter, there's clearly a whole world of stuff that we'll never know about, because it's that expansive, but those hints are THERE, so it's massively frustrating in a fun sort of a way.

And now you've reminded me that I meant to finish rereading Winds of the Forelands. THERE GOES MY FREE TIME TODAY!

(I'm making pickles today and that's so irrelevant but I'm so excited that if I don't tell someone I'll burst because PICKLES AHHHHHHHHHHHH okay brb getting cucumbers)
Kelley: SC // Joel faded highwaychibimarchy on July 29th, 2012 02:30 am (UTC)
Wow, re: the deal-breaker if it's done wrong, I had to choose the main characters, and I was recently reminded why-- I started a book, with a promising premise and all, but I could not get past the MC's almost COMPLETE IGNORANCE of the world around her, and therefore couldn't finish the book. There comes a point where I just can't suspend my disbelief.
Comrade Cat: anime-glassescomrade_cat on July 29th, 2012 09:12 am (UTC)
I relate to characters most based on their geekiness or positioning as an outsider.
belongtothedayontothereverie on August 1st, 2012 08:15 am (UTC)
It killed me that the question about which issue would concern me most if dealt with badly wasn't checkboxes - I think I ended up choosing Gender Portrayal but same-sex relationships, race portrayal and whitewashing, power exchange relationships and mental health are all pretty much equal for me personally.

Edited at 2012-08-01 08:18 am (UTC)
mizstorgemizstorge on August 3rd, 2012 03:00 pm (UTC)
Are you willing to forgive a lack of research in the name of a good story?</i>
This has been the deal-breaker for me many times. For instance, in one Stephen King novel the protagonist picked up a revolver and flicked the safety off. I would expect someone like King to make the effort to find out the crucial information that revolvers don't have safeties. I lost respect for his integrity right there and never picked up another of his books.

Aong the same lines, I expect writers to describe characters accurately. One novel had a character who was presented as a BAMF who was going to mentor the sweet and naive main character so she could bring her sister's killer to justice. I expected a Giles/Buffy sort of relationship though I suspected this guy had a secret agenda of his own. What I got was a manipulative SOB who never once tried to teach her how to take care of herself, continually placed her in dangerous situations and then berated her for her stupidity, leaving her in tears. There was no character or sub-plot develpment that suggested that this abuse wasn't going to continue through the next three books in the series so I put the book in the box for the library sale.

My favorite character tends to be the antagonist who is smart, charismatic, sarcastic and who is revealed to have greater depth and broader understanding of the situation than does the protagonist. If the protagonist falls for this character, so much the better.


Edited at 2012-08-03 03:05 pm (UTC)