Why Do You Read What You Read?

Stephen King says in his Afterword to Different Seasons that the minimum length for a novel is about 40,000 words, that the maximum for a short story is about 20,000, and that anything in between is the "banana republic . . . of Novella." (copied from wikipedia flash fiction entry) I found this funny for some reason. It’s probably the banana republic part.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about what I like in a novel. Don’t ask me why, my train of thought tends to jump rails fairly often. But what I was thinking is that what I look for in a novel is essentially what I will attempt to model my writing after. It’s only natural. You see it from childhood on up. Everyone imitates those that they look up to. What’s the saying? Imitation is the highest form of flattery.

What I admire most about an author is the ability to create an entire world. For example, Piers Anthony and his Xanth and Mode books. Anne McCaffrey and her dragons. Robin McKinley only has two, but even she brought her own little world to life. Mercedes Lackey and her set of Valdemar books. These authors have created whole worlds that they play in. That’s what I want to be able to do. I was thinking about it a couple days ago and I think that the reason why they make it work is because of creating a sense of society when you read them. When someone goes to visit someone else the world exists beyond just those two people. There are communities and certain things that happen behind the scenes that you never see happening that drive what the characters say and do.

Blast. I think I need to rewrite a few of my earlier chapters. In the meantime, what do you look for in your books?