PBW complained about some of the common problems in books that make her nuts. Plenty of bad stuff to avoid.
I want to go for the opposite exercise--tried to figure out what makes me stay in a book and/or give me a strong emotional response.
My first response is that it's all general. Strong characters, interesting plot. Blah. Once I figure out something specific (guys who pretend not to like cats but are sneak-patting one on page 200) then it's a device and therefore sneerworthy.
But heck, I can be manipulated by the right writer. Sure! I mean we're talking Universal Themes, right? So it's nothing to be ashamed of.
We'll call them archetypes and pretend we're in English 101. The people I like to read about:
The loners--who keep a part of their mystery through the whole book. I'm talking about the tough detective, the wizard. Merlin. None of this complete meltdown into mate material at the end. That's what happened to Spenser about 3,000 books back. He was never litterachure but at least he didn't have Susan Silverman early on. Urgh.
Outsiders, but not by choice. People who don't fit and never really will. (They seem to pop up in my writing so that makes sense.) Ender's Game.
Strong women. Not shrill, not stubborn (well, not necessarily stubborn, at least as defined by a lot of writers), but strong. Capable of changing but only for good reasons. Maire in The Grey Horse
Unlike Mrs. Giggles, I kinda like traditional self-sacrificing women in historicals. When they get to the point where they'll give up Happiness for Others I wanna shake them. But I like the characters who've been taught to think of others as well as themselves. Mrs. G goes nuts when she reads a Mary Balogh book -- and I love Balogh, often.
I have to take a kid to school (late opening at least) and maybe I'll try to come up with others later. You tell me-- what gets you ever time?
The little zing of "awwwwww" counts. (e.g. my cat-petting hero)
Come on, it's time to admit your most embarrassing "I am a happily manipulated reader" moments -- tell the world you just love secret baby books. You'll feel better if you do.