Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesBooks & Authors · 8 years ago

How does one exactly judge a book?

I've recently started on my second novel. I was going through what I had written few days ago and felt that I preferred using uncommon synonyms of common words. At the same time I received a piece of writing from my friend. I read through that and realised her vocabulary is vast and that's what sucked me into the story.

This constantly nagged me. Finally I looked through one of my amazing books, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows. I found out that her language was not very complex but she did use complex words occasionally. This struck me. I started reading about the readability indexes. I even ran my work through the index and got a score of 10.66 in the Coleman Liau test where as J.K Rowling's writing averaged to 7.2 . So this experience popped a question in my mind.

Do you look at the complexity of the language? Is lower the readability the better the book for you?

Or do people prefer to look at other properties of the book such as the plot and not the simplicity of the language?

12 Answers

  • Lynn
    Lv 7
    8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    People read novels for the stories. They don't read them to be impressed by an author's vocabulary. The focus is the story. Once the story is the focus the right word comes - eventually, and with hard work, but it comes. Your friend probably suffers from thesauritis, a disease caused by thinking "think" isn't sophisticated enough, so let's "contemplate." Monks contemplate. Philosophers contemplate. We merely think. Unless the character is a philosopher or monk, the only one impressed with contemplate is a very good friend, someone who is envious, or, most likely, the writer himself/herself.

    You scored a 10.66? I'd be embarrassed. Rowling's would be gutsy, if she went as high as a 7.2. (Given that's not the standard readability index in America, I doubt her writing is that high. Matter of fact, the reason I never read past the first book was because the language was too simple, but then again, I'm not her target audience, and she learned how to write for her audience, so I have no doubt she nailed the words for the age level.)

    Do I look at the complexity of the language? No. I look for the story. The language better not trip me or the author is merely trying to impress me with the author, not the story. (I have the education background to read 95% of any novel in English.)

    What do the authors know that you don't know? How to show a darn good story for the reading level of their audience. I understand some young people get mighty impressed with highfalutin language. To become good writerrs, they get over that quickly.

    Someone recently asked on here what was the best advice and worse advice you've ever received as a writer. I could tell the age of the answerers by their answers.

    Worse advice? Use a big vocabulary.

    Best advice? Don't use a big vocabulary.

    Back in college I was taught by a semantic Nazi. (At the time, he was reknown throughout the States.) I've known "use use not utilize" for close to 40 years. ;)

  • 8 years ago

    Good question. People have different preferences depending on their reading ability. But I think things like characterization and plot has more of an influence than the complexity of the language. I read both "simple books" and books with richer vocabulary and I admit, whether I like the book or not or decide if it's worthy of a second read has mostly to do with the plot and characters. =3

  • A User
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    You are right.

    It's a mistake a lot of beginners make to think that showing off a complex vocabulary is good writing. In fact it's the opposite. It's not about picking up a Thesaurus and picking the most complex synonym in there. Readers do not like it. It's about using the right words.

    Don't stop at J.K Rowling. Check out the classics. Do you think Jane Eyre would have been better if instead of writing "Reader, I married him.", Charlotte Bronte had written "Lector, I espoused him." or "Peruser, I plighted my troth."?

  • 8 years ago

    To be honest, at first I judge based on the cover or what the blurb tells me about the book. But when I start reading it, the complexity of the language doesn't matter to me as much as long as I feel like the story is intriguing enough to me. Although complexity of the language does have advantages, like broadening your vocab as well just describing things better or more accurately, sometimes novels are best explaining simply. I have read several books which used simple language but earned amazing awards etc.

    It's a matter of personal preference. But all in all, I prefer the plot/first chapter of the book to intrigue me rather than it's language. Unless it's really crap writing then forget about that :)

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  • 8 years ago

    I like to look at the vocabulary of the books. I don't base whether or not I'm going to read it solely on that detail though. If I like the plot and the way the story's told, I'll read it. Complex language is just a bonus for me.

  • 8 years ago

    It depends how vast. Take for instance Finnigan's Wake. It uses vocabulary so intense that there is only "a general consensus as to who the characters are and what the plot is". Almost no one reads that book because you have to look up literally every word. But if it uses plain English with beautiful discriptions and a sprinkling of obscure words, that's perfect.

  • 8 years ago

    Don't make the mistake of thinking that using lots of long, uncommon words will make your novel better. It won't. All it will do is mark you out as an amateur. Sorry to be harsh but it's the truth. It's a common mistake for newer writers to make. Trying to cram in as many uncommon synonyms as you can will clutter your writing and bog down the story. People might tell you it's amazing because you've used lots of fancy words but a publisher won't care about your skill with a thesaurus. (Assuming you would be looking to get it published)

  • 8 years ago

    I judge a book by the plot and it's ability to draw me in. I've been drawn in by complex books and simple books alike. So long as the writing is legible, the characters relatable and the plot interesting, I can read pretty much anything.

  • 8 years ago

    you just need to get the story clear. Don't worry about the vocabulary. People judge a book by how much they enjoyed reading it.

  • sole
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    continually, fairly with people. if i see them before each and every thing and dont like them, generally im proper. i mean i attempt to love them yet they instruct to be precisely how i presumed they could

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