The stories I’m passionately about tend to be very diverse. Sweeping sagas with tragic heroes, romantic and light, tales that provide serious food for thought… I enjoy them all. What does stand out, though, is that a relatively large amount of those stories tend to have action rich, fast paced story-lines, and a vivid, vibrant, interesting and original setting. I also greatly value my opinionated female main characters, but I guess that’s because as an opinionated female myself I tend to identify fairly easy with those.
Fast paced story-lines and world building, unfortunately, is not something that always goes together well. That which is needed for world building, namely words devoted to the world and the characters, often directly slows down the pace of the story. It’s a difficult balancing act in which authors have to make many hard choices.
Which brings me to what I’m reading at the moment. I usually only read one novel at a time, but currently I’m reading two. One lies firmly in the Urban Fantasy genre, the other one is situated in the gray area between historical romance and classical fantasy. Both are well written, their strong points however differ slightly. One has more details and more character building. The world, the characters, the events are so vivid and believable they almost appear real. Very high praise for a novel as far as I’m concerned. And yet, I catch myself preferring the other. It’s a shorter story, but not short. The pace of the story, however, is much, much higher. What the first novel takes pages and pages to describe, this one lets fly by in less than a single one. And that combined with the accessible writing and well placed jokes is such that it pulls me in, and won’t let go.
So in the end, I guess I prefer novels in which the scales slightly tip towards a faster pace over a higher degree of depth to the novel. What do you prefer?