Friday, June 14, 2013

Quotes and Cookies: Fat Books & Thin Books


"Inside every fat book is a thin book trying to get out."

~Unknown

I saw a thing on Facebook once that said, "I like fat books and I cannot lie" and I laughed and laughed because, come on-- that's funny.

But I cannot lie.

I do not like fat books.

Okay, that's a lie, too. I sometimes like fat books. But I have to REALLY be in the mood for it. And the writing has to be so very fan-freaking-tabulous that walking at a really slow pace is okay. Because it feels like stopping to smell the roses.*

But mostly, I want to feel the wind on my face (especially if the wind smells like roses, and I swear it can be both). Once upon a time, I used to look at a thin book and think it had less substance and depth. I've been reading books faster and more frequently than I ever have in my life, and through it I've come to realize something: if written well, a thin book does not lack substance and depth in the least. It just has incredible pacing.

And pacing means a lot to me.

It's what pulls me through a book. It's what makes me want to read just one more chapter even when it's late. An expertly-paced book is very important to me. And when I read a book that's not paced well, I just keep stopping on all the extra stuff in there. The stuff that doesn't add to the story, and makes me feel like I'm trudging uphill through cold tar, and now that I've seen that quote, I think "There's a thin book in here, trying to get out."

How about you? How high does a well-paced book rank for you?

While you're thinking about it, have a big fat cookie.

photo credit: GloriaGarcía via photopin cc

And remember that I love you the same, regardless of how fat you like your books. :)



*(And for the record, I have read fat books with incredible pacing, too-- I'm mostly talking about books that are fatter than they should be, you know? The ones where the author included ALL THE THINGS, but then never took out the extras that, in the end, just bog it down.)

18 comments:

JeffO said...

I don't have a preference. Fat books can be daunting when you look at them on the shelf, but you can fly through them if they are done well. And I've had thin books that took me weeks to read. Size doesn't matter, it's all in the execution. (can I say that in a MG blog???)

DRC said...

Haha...just read JeffO's comment and it made me chuckle :)

Fat books are daunting, and the shear size can put you off picking it up and opening it, but sometimes it can be so worth it. At present I'm battling my way through Stephen King's Under The Dome which is a mammoth of a book. It's taken me a year or two to do so, but now that I have I'm loving every word :)

ilima said...

Yes, I agree. Unlike myself, my books are skinny. Haha. It's all about the pacing, no matter how thick a book is...so true. My reading time is so precious, I will put down a book if there's too much extra 'stuff' and move on.

Carrie-Anne said...

I love writing fat books and wish there were more 800+ paged books in today's North American market. It's more emotionally satisfying to climb into some juicy epic spanning 10=15 years and with over 100 characters, for me, than to pick up some 250-paged book without a lot of room for deep plot or character development. When you write and read historical, superlong books are pretty much expected, current prejudices against long books notwithstanding.

Jai said...

I don't like books that are info dumps. Other than that I love all books.

Robin said...

yes, I agree. Some books need to be fat books-the story calls for it, but often, it's a skinny book bogged down with unneeded extras. Great post!

Susan Kane said...

I just re-shelved a book with 837 pages. The thing is, I really love this author, but I don't know if I can commit.

Cindy Dwyer said...

"Inside every fat book is a thin book trying to get out."

I love this quote. Such a great inspiration to edit out the fluff that shouldn't be there.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I'm reading a fat book right now where for some reason the narrator feels the need to give a full description of every single character's backstory. It's a good book overall, but I find myself impatiently skipping ahead to see if the pace picks up.

S.P. Bowers said...

Pacing is hugely important. But I have seen both thin and fat books with pacing problems, both thin and fat books with too much extra that makes me groan, and thin and fat books that are brilliantly written. So I generally don't even pay attention to the size.

Shelli Sivert said...

I do get intimidated by fat books. But, you're right, it all depends on how it's done. It's funny because just a couple of days ago I started chopping my own book. It takes some bravery but I know it needs to be done!

Conor J. Caldwell said...

I like good pacing too. Though sometimes I'm not in the mood for shorter books.

As long as the story has the feeling that its "moving along" and the characters are interesting, then fat or thin, I love novels! :D

Brandon Ax said...

I love big books, and thin books are okay if done well.

I will say this a poorly written thin book is much better than a poorly written large one.

I do like fast pacing and it can be fun, but I want to enjoy the characters not get the book done and over with to move on to the next.

Jeff Hargett said...

Pacing is always important, but too fast and too slow are both problematic. I like fat books, even prefer them, if executed well. But a fat book with too slow pacing is daunting at best.

Conor J. Caldwell said...

Jeff, I absolutely agree with you!

Annalisa Crawford said...

There are a couple of authors I'll read no matter what size book they come out with, but even then I'm editing in my head and cutting down the word count!

heavy hedonist said...

My view: if you're not Tolkien, cut the fat!

Good, funny and true post. Congrats and good luck with Sky Jumpers!

Nicole said...

I have a thing for fat books. :) That being said, you're definitely right about good pacing being absolutely essential. I've loved many a skinny book with good pacing, too. But just imagine MORE of that goodness in a fat, well-paced book.