Tuesday, July 14, 2015

3 Things I Love in a Good Story // Hamlette

from Hamlette

1 – Characters I Want to Be Friends With 

No lie -- this is make-or-break for me. If I don't want to be friends with at least a few of the main characters and hang out with them, I won't be re-reading or re-watching this, which means I don't love it, or even like it much. I realize this is highly subjective, as no one can really predict what will make me want to be friends with a fictional character, but there it is.

Actually, I do have some pretty basic things I like in a character. They need to be nice and helpful. I also appreciate characters who are loyal, sensible, and practical. A little quirkiness is nice, and I appreciate both sarcasm and sass a lot. But those are all gravy. I don't love characters who are not both nice and helpful. Now you know.

2 – Realistic Dialogue 

It needs to sound like things real human beings in that point in time would say. (William Shakespeare gets a pass for this one -- no mere mortal talks as well as his characters. But it would be nice if we did!) 

Also, I really appreciate it when an author tells me a character has an accent, say Scottish, and then lets me imagine the accent. I dinnae apprrreciate it when they mun go to verrrah grrreat lengths to wrrrite oot the accent -- ach, mon, it gives me a rrroarrring headache if I cannae rrread it easily.

3 – Happy Endings

And by that, I mean endings that make me happy. I want moral balance restored to the universe at the end of a story -- good triumphs over evil, etc. This is why I consider the ending of Hamlet to be happy -- good has triumphed, even if at great personal cost. If evil wins, or if good kinda wins but evil is still lurking somewhere, then it's not a happy ending, to me.

(Note from Heidi: Thanks so much for sharing today, Hamlette and I heartily concur with every one of your points! ;))

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Would you like to share three of your favorite things in a guest post? You don’t have to be a writer to qualify! This series is by story lovers for story lovers.
For post specifics/guidelines you can see the initial post here, then send Heidi a quick email at ladyofanorien(at)gmail(dot)com. Don’t be shy. I’d love to have you!


  1. Well done, Hamlette!:D

    Those are all great components! I especially agree with the endings that make one happy--they don't necessarily need to be warm and fuzzy (though those are great), but they do need (usually) to be hopeful and satisfactory, in order for me to love the story:)

    1. Thanks, Olivia! I'm glad you enjoyed it :-)

      "Satisfactory" is a really good way to put it -- the ending needs to satisfy me. I do sometimes like "sad" endings, but they have to be called for by the story, not tacked on because the author wanted to be "cool" or something.

  2. Ooooooohhh . . . I'm with you on the accents, Hamlette! I mean, it's interesting when they try to write it out, but it's also an ENORMOUS distraction.

    1. Hee, yes. It can get so out of hand, and eventually, I tend to just skip big chunks of dialog, which is sad and maddening.

  3. Wow, these are such great points! I totally agree. I LOVE it when you close the book and feel as if you were visiting a friend, but now have to return home. It's so bittersweet, but then next time you reread the book....yay! My friends! haha
    Oh my, yes. The accents "spelled out". I read Lorna Doone, and I couldn't even understand what some characters were "saying" because of the accent. I actually had to skip over their lines.
    I never really though about that last point, but it's true. Of course, since the world will always hold "evil" I could see how some stories could leave off with still some "lurking shadows" but if the main bad guy is still undefeated or if it's kind of a "hopeless" ending I probably wouldn't be satisfied with the story. You've given me food for thought, though, and now I want to think about all my favorite stories and whether they end with complete "good triumphs" or not....hmm. :)

    1. Thanks, Natalie! I agree -- friends in books are such a delight to return to. I feel the same way about movies.

      Yeah, I remember Lorna Doone being hard to struggle through some of the accents.

      Although the world will always hold evil, I want moral balance restored by the end of the book, if that makes sense. Sauron needs to be defeated, not just sent whimpering away. Ditto for Carver Doone, for Claudius in Hamlet, for Azog the Defiler in the Hobbit movies.

      Have you thought of any favorite stories that don't end with complete "good triumphing" yet? These are my own personal requirements for a book, of course, so they might not hold true for you. Everyone needs different things from a story!

    2. Hamlette,
      I can't think of many stories I like that don't end with "good triumphing". The only one I can think of right now is perhaps A Tale of Two Cities....even though the "good people" have a happy ending, there is obviously a very big sacrifice for that, and the French Revolution is still happening....
      But I'm not sure if that qualifies. It ends with hope and, in a way, good still triumphs so....hmmm.
      Sorry for my rambling comment. The more I think about it, I probably would NOT like books/movies that left the villain or evil "still there." Are there any particular stories you can think of that end without good triumphing? Because I can't actually think of any, haha.

    3. Natalie, I do think of A Tale of Two Cities as having a good ending because the bad guys didn't triumph, if that makes sense. But of course the bad guys are still there, because that madness wasn't totally over.

      There's a movie called Legend, an '80s fantasy movie starring a very young, very sparkly Tom Cruise, that my college roommate loved EXCEPT that at the very end, it was revealed that they didn't destroy their evil enemy at all -- the last bit of the movie was him laughing maniacally. Thanks to the wonders of VHS technology, I just recorded over that part, and we had a better ending.

      Also, I refuse to read the last chapter of any Robin Hood retelling that involves Robin Hood being betrayed and dying. Most of them end that way, except the ones adapted for kids. Terrible ending!!!

      Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles involves an accidental murder going completely undetected, which bothered me a lot.

      Those are the ones that pop into my head at the moment, though I know there are others I've seen or read that end that way.

    4. Thought of another one: The Prestige, a movie about magic starring Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale. The ending is horrrrrrrrrible -- turns out there really is no good guy, and justice is not served. That movie sent me into an emotional tailspin for weeks.

    5. Hamlette,
      Oh wow. You're totally right-those stories sound horrible! Or, at least, their endings do. I completely agree with you, now that I can see more what you meant by "the moral balance restored" and everything. Thanks for giving me those examples! :)

  4. I absolutely agree! "Characters I want to be friends with" is a great way to put it, I had never thought of it that way, but that's exactly how I decide if I like characters or not!
    Definitely with you on the accents, that distracts me from what I'm reading terribly.
    And of course I completely agree about endings!

    1. Thanks, Lizzie! I only realized that a year or so ago. That's the deciding factor on whether I love a book/movie/show or only like it: Do I want to be friends with the characters? That's absolutely the deciding factor.


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