Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Should I stay...or should I go? by Cathy Ace

Q: When reading a book (or watching a movie or TV series), how long do you give it to grab you before giving up? Is your tolerance level different in the different mediums? Has it changed from where it was ten or even twenty years ago? How much of this tendency has to do with your reader/viewer self and how much is due to the writer self?  Do you wish you were different in this regard, and if so, how?

A: First of all, this is my chance to wish everyone good health and great happiness for 2022…so I send my best wishes to you and yours!

As for the question, it’s an interesting and complex one, and I’ve given it a good, long think…

As many of you who are regular readers will know, I use this blog as something of a confessional, so here’s today’s admission: I make up my mind about most things quite quickly. To be fair to myself, I’ll add that I’ve learned to TRY to be more patient than my instincts might otherwise dictate, so now give things like books, movies, and TV a little more time than I would naturally choose to do before I abandon them.

In all honesty it’s impossible to say how long I give a “thing” before I bail on it…it varies tremendously: I try to give a book long enough that I can come to terms with the rhythm of the author’s writing, and the nature of their voice – if I like those, I’ll keep going, even if the plot/characterization disappoints along the way, or at the end; a movie will keep me watching until I can tell that the plot/look/characterization is letting me down – I have, however, continued to watch an entire movie in which neither the plot nor the characterizations appeal to me simply because I enjoy the way it looks; for TV, if it’s a series I’ll give it maybe one and a half episodes, if it’s a mini-series maybe one episode, if it’s a one-off maybe a third of its running time.

Yes, this has changed since I started writing, because I get cross more quickly when the plot has gaping holes, or if the characters just aren’t up to snuff. My first book came out just a little less than ten years ago, so I can’t say if my increased impatience is to do with the passing of time or an insider’s view of constructing a story, but it’s probably a mixture of the two. I find that, for books, I use the Look Inside opportunity offered by Amazon, because I can usually tell by reading a sample if I want to spend a) my money and b) my time on the book in question…so that’s helpful. As for movies and TV, I don’t find trailers as useful, because sometimes they are so well edited that I think it’s going to make for good viewing, but it turns out that ALL the best bits were in the trailer, or that there’s a tension suggested there that isn’t conveyed by the actual movie/series, so I give it some time, then bail, or stick with it.


Do I wish I were different in this regard? Well, not really – I have so many other faults that I would attend to them first! But I do acknowledge that the mood I’m in when I “sample” something, or begin to read/watch impacts my level of like/dislike, so I’ve found that I return to books/movies/TV at different times and feel differently about them, which might also be a reflection of my age…I’ve always believed in second chances, and am living proof they can work out well, so – because I have benefitted so much from a second chance being given – I endeavor to do the same.

Have you tried one of my books from one of my series and it didn't appeal? Sorry about that - but let's just admit that not everything is everyone's cup of tea; it's true that you cannot please all of the people all of the time. But...if you'd like to give my work a second chance, you can find out all about it at my website:

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