This blog topic is thanks to the wonderful suggestion from my dear friend Ashley. I put out the open-ended question “What should I write about next?” on places like Twitter, Plurk, Facebook, etc., promising to write about the best topic. Since only two people responded, I will write about both of their topics in separate posts. Ashley’s topic gets to go first, since she was the first to reply. 🙂
I have thought more about what I like in books than in movies, but I believe the general principles apply to both. Allow me to share my humble opinions with you.
A good book/movie has:
1) A twist in the plot. I cannot stand stories that are utterly predictable. Granted, most stories have some elements of predictability. But if I could sit down and write out the ending for you, your book/movie is not going to be one of my favorites.
2) Thought-provoking material. Most of the time, I want stories that give me something to think about. Probably because of my psychology and English degrees, I like analyzing. I like finding symbolism and layers of meaning. Now, before I sound like a total nerd, I enjoy mindless stories as well. I am a fan of nights where I curl up on the couch with ice cream and a book that is as pointless as ice cream is to weight loss. But, overall, at least give me some kernel to gnaw on if you’d like to be one of my favorite books/movies.
3) Engaging content. By this I mean that the story has to pull me in. It must be able keep my attention; I don’t want the hours dragging by as I’m reading/watching the material. My favorite books/movies are the ones where I end up shocked by how quickly time has flown because I have been so engaged in the story.
4) A range of emotions. I like to laugh; I like to be moved to tears. If a book/movie can do both, genuinely, then it’s a favorite.
5) A bittersweet ending. Now I can’t say this is a must for every book/movie, and a good deal of my favorites do not have this. If, however, the story can end in a bittersweet way, with you feeling happy and satisfied with just a hint of regret about something (even if it’s only that the story is over), to me that is true genius. Any story can end well. It takes brilliance to find just the right tone of a bittersweet ending. If a book/movie can do that, it is a favorite.
Any agreements/disagreements to my list above? What makes a good book/movie for you?