We all have preferences. Some of us like go-go-go action and snappy dialog. Some of us like to sink into milieus as we follow a character's story. Some prefer commercial, fashionable, literary, and/or experimental style(s) of writing and storytelling. Some like plunging into a story in medias res; others like dipping in a foot, then wading in more slowly to get used to the story's waters.
Because, contrary to folks who tout preferences as "rules", there really isn't a set-in-stone right or wrong way to tell a story (although there are such beasties as good writing and bad writing).
So, I'm curious: what's your stylistic preference(s)? What about it appeals to you?
For myself, I read widely even though spec fiction is my favorite genre. I've read the best of the best across most genres and can distinguish good writing from bad. I love variety. The common -- and accurate -- joke about me is that I have the boredom threshhold of a 3 y.o. Approach the story in any way but write it well and don't bore me. The thing I see too many writers doing is trying to follow this or that formula rather than trying to excel within their own style whatever that may be. What I like is a story so compelling that I don't notice whether I dove in or waded in, whether an opening descriptive beauty casts the reader's trance over me or an initial breath-taking action grabs me. And I like styles that challenge me, dare me to soar with it.
Last Edit: Apr 10, 2014 23:58:54 GMT -5 by metalikhan
It's much easier to think of writing styles that don't appeal to me -- possibly because good stories don't call attention to their tropes, possibly because (as Metalikhan notes) there are few if any true stylistic "rules," possibly because I can find a way to enjoy most things.
So, I don't like plot-driven stories that also try to beef up their characterizations. I dislike the combination of a fast-paced plot with sassy characters that are either over-competent or incompetent in stereotypical ways. Basically, I guess I don't like some kinds of camp. However, I think I can appreciate and often do enjoy careful, reserved camp. I think camp comes off better when the characters remain dignified, when the characters take the camp seriously, so that the camp is a meta-commentary to the audience.
In television, this is why I generally dislike Doctor Who even though I like Star Trek. Both shows have campy science fiction settings, but Star Trek takes its own campiness seriously, so that you end up believing it. Part of the fun of watching a Star Trek episode is taking the cheesy aesthetics seriously -- you can believe in the ray-gun phasers, the techno-babble, the anachronistic 60's or 80's clothing and hair styles, and all of that makes the world a little more magical. Captain Kirk can drop-kick a guy wearing a cheesy dinosaur suit and then beam back onboard the Enterprise and sit down in the command chair with all of his stereotypical macho dignity in tact. In my opinion, the captains from the spin-offs are even more dignified.
But Doctor Who throws its own campiness in the viewers' face. The show is constantly laughing at itself. That is, the Doctor seems to be winking at the audience, constantly laughing with us at the absurdity of the episode's camp. With the exception of the rare occasions where he hints at his inner turmoil over the loss of his people, the Doctor refuses to let us take him seriously.
I couldn't take Rose seriously, either. I absolutely hated Rose at first, and she only improved slightly. (I've seen two seasons of the new series.) I don't think the characters' personality is the problem. It's not just that these characters are different from me; it's the fact that their heavy-handed personalities are so dominant. The characters belittle the whole premise with their constantly nonchalant attitudes.
Also, the setting doesn't just incorporate elements of camp -- it pretty much directly appropriates the campy stereotype in its pure form. Compare the Borg with the Cybermen -- I'm sure film critics have probably done so extensively. The Cybermen don't just suggest the campy stereotype of emotionless robot people, they are that stereotype.
I think I can understand how some people like the enthusiastic camp in Doctor Who and in plot-driven sword-and-sorcery-type novels, but I don't enjoy it.