I finished reading DRACULA, finally. It took me a while to get through the book partly due to being busy and forgetting that I love reading, but in part because I lost interest in the middle of the story and had to force myself to continue. The ending was satisfyingly gripping, as was the beginning, but the middle dragged (as middles often do).
Agent Nathan Bransford recently wrote, "the one question that aspiring writers should never ask themselves when reading a book is, 'Do I like this?'"
I agree with the point he goes on to make, that "The real question aspiring writers should ask is not whether they liked a book, but whether they think the author accomplished what they set out to accomplish." But I do think there's value in considering whether you like a book, as long as you're thinking about the reasons why or why not, then figuring out how to do or avoid the same things in your own writing.
I didn't actually dislike DRACULA, though I've read plenty of books I liked more. I got a lot out of reading it and noticing what worked for me and what didn't. (More on that tomorrow.) While it's more fun to read a book that I love, it's usually more educational to read one I'm less than crazy about.
Bram Stoker accomplished what he intended to with DRACULA, and then some, since the book is still being read over a century later. It has survived because it's an exciting story told in an interesting way, and whatever flaws it may have are relatively minor compared to the book's longevity. (Insert vampire joke here.)
Good Stuff Out There:
→ Tayari Jones urges readers to seek out books by black writers: "A reader-focused initiative reminds everyone that depriving the broad marketplace of books by black authors is a crime against society, not just an offense against the careers of a few folks who happen to write books." (Thanks, L. Rebecca Harris!)
→ Randy Susan Meyers at Beyond the Margins warns, "Revise in Haste; Repent in Leisure" and suggests some starting questions for revision.