June 20, 2009

Beginning, Middle, or End?

Which is the most important part of the book? For me, it's the end. If the end is terrible, I tend to forget how much I enjoyed everything that came before it.

How much the beginning matters depends on why I picked up the book. If it's just something that looked cool on the bookstore or library shelves, I may return without reading if I can't get into it. But usually I read stuff that someone recommended - be it a friend, family, or a fellow blogger. Therefore I'll give the book's slow beginning the benefit of a doubt. (One I never got into? An ARC missing the first 29 pages. I couldn't figure out what was going on and decided it wasn't worth trying even though it sounded awesome.)

As for the middle, it's only important if I didn't like the beginning. I have too much to read to waste time on books I don't care about. If I'm not grabbed by page 100 or so, I'll give up.

I try to pay attention to the whole, but I can't say one kind of pacing is best. A story needs to be paced the best way to tell the story. Some parts are necessarily slower, or less exciting, or more expository, and so forth. But when I finish a book and deem it a good or bad read, the end colors my perception completely. It's freshest in my mind - especially if I've been let down.

What about ya'll?


  1. I'm all about beginnings--that first flush of love is just so important! I love getting to know the author's style, the characters' voices, the world. If the beginning doesn't work, or I don't like where it's going in the middle, I'll cheerfully put it down and try another book. On very few occasions an ending has disappointed me, but I find I can put up with a less-than-perfect plot for some above-average writing.

  2. I'd say that the beginning is really important, because it really helps me pick a book. I will read the first few pages and, id I'm not hooked, I won't continue reading it. However, the ending really is important of my general feel of the book once it's over. I can forgive a not-so-good middle is the book has a strong beginning and a strong ending.

  3. One book I read, The King in the High Castle (or something to that effect) by Philip K Dick had me going eh throughout most of it. Then I got to the end, and I mean the last couple of sentences, and was floored by it.

    The ending makes all the difference. The book can be amazing but if it's a rocks fall, everyone dies ending that has me going WTF? then the rest of the book is tainted and I'm wondering why the hell I even read it.

  4. Donna, you put it perfectly for me. That why-did-I-read-this-because-I-spent-all-that-time-for-that feeling is what really gets me.

    And I know where Rhiannon and shelf are coming from, but I tend to be generous with books and read past the beginning if it sounded good enough. But the quality of the prose does matter. If I can't get into because I think the writing is horrible I know that isn't going to improve.

  5. This is a really great question! I think that the beginning is more important to me. If I am not drawn into the book in the first 50 pages or so, I will put it down. I've done that with a lot of books that people have told me are great, but I just can't get into them.

  6. Great question. I think all are very important:

    Beginning--You need a good hook to get your readers into the book. A boring beginning could lead to a person putting down the book!

    Middle--Probably the most important, you need a story that makes sense and flows.

    End--I hate bad endings. Cliff-hangers especially bother me. Books need to end with a bang without being too cheesy!!!!

  7. All are important: the beginning needs a hook so I can get into the story, the middle needs to move along well (or else I'll give it up even if I liked the beginning), and the end needs to wrap up well.

  8. This is a hard one.... The beginning HAS to hook me, or I'm not going to read further. But if the ending is bad, it is going to leave a bad taste in my mouth. And if the middle is slow, I feel like I can't fully recommend it you know?

  9. It is much better when they're all good, isn't it? You don't have to ponder the question at all.

  10. The ending does finalize everyone's perception of your book.

    Which makes writing the ending ridiculously stressful.

  11. Beginnings have to catch me from the start. I can't continue reading past page 60-75 to see if the book gets better.

    I've wasted a lot of time on books that didn't grab me in the first 75 pages, and I've decided its time to stop.

    I agree that the ending has to be good--provide a viable resolution to the story--for me to love it when its time to write the review.

    The middle doesn't have to be fantastic, but it does have to keep me moving along in the story.

  12. Oh yes. Beginning and ends are VERY important to me, but it's the middle that will make me put a book down and not pick it back up again. My husband judges all books by the first line. If it's not good, we won't read it.


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