I read a lot. Most of it is pretty good, but sometimes I’ll slog through a book and find myself wondering, “why is this so hard?” When that happens, I’ll usually start trying to analyze what I think the author is trying to do, and why it’s not working. And I usually learn something from that process. So what’s something you learned from a book that was hard to read? I’ll go first in the answers.

Sara Answered question June 9, 2024

I’m currently working through V.E. Schwab’s ‘Shades of Magic’ series. The first book was really good, and the second book was alright, but, I found myself slogging through it. About 3/4 of the way through, I realized what the problem was: the majority of the plot consisted of waiting for a big event that didn’t happen until act 3– which is to say that a lot of the book was a lot of talking about this event, with very little actually happening until the very end. (I still enjoyed the book, it was just very different from the first one, which was a lot of plot flying at you very fast.)

Realizing that this ‘event book’ was a bit of a slog made me wonder if there’s an engaging way to write one, which turned me to one of my favorite series, ‘The Hunger Games.’ The first two books both center around a big event, but in those books there’s stakes not just in the event itself, but in the lead up to the event. There’s a series of smaller challenges that all have decently high stakes that slowly amp up to the big, high-stakes event that is The Hunger Games.

So that’s what I learned: if I’m writing an event book, one way to keep the book engaging is to have smaller challenges in the lead up that still have sufficiently high stakes to keep the reader engaged, instead of investing so much time in having characters talk about the stakes of the Big Event that doesn’t actually take place until the end of the book.