Showing posts from November, 2010

Judging a book by its cover.

I buy books to read myself based on several highly-questionable characteristics:

1. The cover. I figure if the cover doesn't appeal to me, the whole book is not for me. The cover should reflect at least some aspects of the publisher, the author and the story inside. I hate shiny, plasticized covers. I also dislike hard-cover books--they won't stay open when I knit. And I cannot stand the dust jackets that are on some hard-cover books--I take them off right away.

2. The font. I can't stand fonts that are too small, or too large or that have too much white space, or too little white space. I prefer serif fonts to sans-serif fonts. I don't like huge page margins, or tiny scrimped page margins. I don't like shiny paper.

3. The length. If I'm going to the trouble of getting involved with a book, it needs to be at least 275-300 pp. long. Otherwise it's not worth the effort. 500--700 pp is a good length, and anything up to 1200 pp is fine with me, if the book is in…


Dialogue is a written account of a conversation, either between characters or in a character's head (inner dialogue). Strictly speaking, a dialogue is between 2 characters (di=two), but usually any conversation is refrred to as dialogue in contemporary literature. Incidentally, when one character speaks, it's a monologue. Dialogue and monologue are terms taken from classical Greek drama.

Most plays are, of course, composed of dialogue, with some stage directions and tips on design. Short stories are usually heavy on dailogue, as there isn't enough "time" in a short story to develop the inner lives of characters or go into detail as to setting,backstory, etc. A novel, however, has the luxury of sufficient "time" to lavish on such frivolities as flashbacks, foreshadowing, character development (through the musings of characters), finely-detailed description of the setting's geographical and historic situation, meandering plot lines, sub-plots and aut…


Mood is, to say it simply, the emotional response of the reader to the text (piece of writing). Setting is a huge contributor to mood: contrast a text set in deep winter, in a mountain fortress inhabited by vampires, with a text set in a Tahitian coral reef. Before the writer even begins to explicate the plot or introduce the characters, the reader's mood is being created.

In the picture above of the Vltava River on an Indian summer day, the misty light sets a nostalgic mood of peace and tranquility. The reader's emotions are already active, without knowing what he or she will read.