Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lazy Readers

I started reading a new book last night, a fantasy story. The tale is set in a mythical place and all of the characters and towns and countries have strange names like Zork and Drude and Zerkdom.

I seldom read fantasy, and ten pages into this story I realized why. With all these strange names, it takes work to keep track of who is who, and where towns are in relationship to each other. Basically, I grasped that I’m a lazy reader. I like to concentrate on the prose and the skill of the storyteller, but not work overly hard to keep the characters and places set in my head.

The other issue I have with this read is that each time a new off-the-wall name is presented, it pulls me out of the story when I think to myself: Where the hell did he come up with that one?, which happens about three times per page. I’m hoping that as the story develops, fewer new names will be thrown at me and I’ll become accustomed to the ones already there.

There have been a few fantasy books that I have relished. Lord Of The Rings springs to mind, but there have been several others. Still, fantasies are never my first pick. I suppose what’s important to me in a story is interesting characters (flawed), the story’s premise, the plot’s structure, and quality of the prose. Placing the story in a mythical land, in my viewpoint, only heaps more frosting onto the cake, and I don’t have a sweet tooth.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not trying to sway readers away from fantasy novels, or suggest that those novels don’t have interesting characters and plot development.  And I know many readers love these stories because they can be a delightful escape from the norm.

My only point is that I have a defect. I’m a lazy reader, someone who enjoys a complicated story as long as I don’t have to work too hard to muddle through it. 


Pogodragon said...

I do read quite a lot of fantasy and like you regularly get kicked out of the story by weird names, too many K, J, Z combinations or (the little gods preserve us!) apostrophe abuse.

I've come to the realisation that if the writing is done well then the names/places flow properly and you don't need to consciously work to remember them. I don't think it's lazy readers I think it's lazy writers. It's not just fantasy, I've read books set in the 'real' world where I can't remember who is doing what and to whom where or why.

Not everything works for every reader and I'm quite willing to acknowledge that some things are just not for me, but any book that really needs footnotes better be non-fiction.

Sandra Nachlinger said...

You did a great job of describing me: I'm a lazy reader too. Any name that is hard to pronounce or spelled in a weird way stops me as I try to puzzle it out. Not good. I hope the book you're reading gets easier to decipher!