Tag Archives: characters

The 5 Star Book– How Do You Rate Your Reads?


There is nothing more disappointing than reading the last line of a book and thinking, “Well, that was a waste of time.”

When I think about my life in quantities of time, there’s really too little of it. I spend so much time doing things I have to do, that when I do something I want to do, I don’t want to feel like my time is wasted.

Wasted on soft plots. Wasted on unredemptive characters. Wasted on authors who clearly need to be psycho-analyzed. Wasted on filth for the sake of shock value or lack of creativity on the author’s part.

I don’t like to waste time on anything, especially on a bad story. Especially on a bad story that everyone else loves and it’s an international bestseller but when I read it I feel jipped—jipped of a good story and of the hours of my life I’ve wasted on a stinker of a book.

Maybe it’s me, but there are very few bestsellers that I’d give a stellar, 5 star review.

Goodreads is the greatest website ever invented. Period. It tracks the books I’ve read, the ones I want to read, and the ones I’m reading—without that site I would forget about so many wonderful books I want to spend time on. And I love that I can rate the books and leave reviews when I’m done reading.

What did we do before Goodreads? I mean, really? 🙂 I haven’t been able to add all of the books I’ve ever read to it, well, because I don’t remember them all, but if you’re interested in connecting with me on the site, look me up or click on the Goodreads link on the bottom right of this page.

A good review helps authors, so I’m always willing to leave a positive, honest review. I’m not afraid to leave a not-so-hot review, either, when I feel it is necessary, but I don’t leave “this was horrible” reviews just to be mean. If I really disliked a book, I usually won’t leave a review at all. That whole “if you don’t have something nice to say” thing…

Some authors get a little touchy about a review that isn’t a 5-star, but I rarely leave a 5-star review. An honest review rarely calls for 5 stars, and a 4-star review, even a 3-star, can be very, very positive. I can love a book and not give it 5 stars.

When you read a book, how do you rate it? What’s your rating scale? How do you distinguish a five star book from a four? A two from a one?

Here’s my book-rating scale:

[Click to Tweet]

One Star—I didn’t like it at all. I probably didn’t finish reading it, most likely because the story was too disjointed (or just boring) or the filth was over-the-top.

Two Stars—I couldn’t connect. I didn’t love it and I probably won’t read any of the author’s other books. It was a struggle to finish the book, but I did finish.

Three Stars—I liked it. It held my interest with a decent plot and interesting characters and maybe even intrigued me a time or two. I will probably read the author’s other books and look forward to doing so.

Four Stars—I really enjoyed it. It was a good story with compelling characters, intriguing plot, and well-written prose. It gripped me and kept me turning pages. It kept me involved long after the story was over. I want to support this author by reading his or her other books.

Five Stars—I loved it. Something about the story or the characters moved me enough to add this book to my “read it again” list. This book sticks with me and I can’t let the story go. I will definitely read the author’s other books and will sing this book’s praises from the mountaintops.

So to make my 5 Star list, I have to want to read the book again. Maybe a couple more times. And I don’t always need a happy ending!

Writing, like any form of art, is subjective. You are going to dislike a book I love, and visa versa.

A good story connects us with humanity in the most basic way—a need to engage emotionally. Anger, fear, love, hatred, happiness, satisfaction…the mark of a good story is an emotion that is evoked; an emotion that sticks with you long after you’ve read the last line. [Click to tweet]

Share with me:What is your book rating scale? What does a book need to have to earn 5 stars from you? How about one star?

Real Signature

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Writing

Six Places To Take Your Characters to Get to Know Them Better– A Guest Post from Wendy P. Miller


I laugh in the face of writer’s block. Why? Because I’ve got back up. I tuck away ammo for days when the doldrums sneak in and try to steal my creativity. As a novelist, I consider it a great treasure hunt, a psychological expedition trying to get to know my characters better.

Today I’m providing a fresh way to understand more about the main characters you’re creating.

Oh the places we’ll go…

A Festival

The swirling lights, towering sticks of cotton candy, and overpriced games…a festival is a great venue to watch and learn.

Does she lurk on the edges or do you see her in the center of every crowd? Is she quick to race to the Ferris wheel or does she avoid heights at all costs? Did she once get so sick on a drumstick she’ll never try her luck again? What did she show up wearing? A pastel cardigan and loafers or steel toed boots and a plunging V-neck?

The Mall

One of our pastors once said you know where your loyalties lie when you review your checkbook. What better place (albeit chaotic, overpriced, and not my favorite of all places) to bring your character to observe her behavior.

Does she head straight for Barnes & Noble? Or is she buying more sugar-coated pretzels than she can carry? Does she tire quickly and call it a day after an hour or is she browsing every single storefront? How fast does she walk? Does she make conversation with anyone or is shopping all business with her? Does she have the money to buy what’s she’s ogling?

A Sporting Event

This is where my husband would love to zap me into a character so I’d go with him to a sporting event. That aside, what fun to see how your character would react to the wave, the break-your-budget cost of food, the jeering and cheering crowds.

Does she wear layers or is she freezing the whole time? Does she avoid going to the bathroom at all costs? How rowdy does she get? Does she meld with the crowd or stand out like an oversized thumb (guess she wouldn’t stick out much at all with those awkward fan thumbs wielding around in the wind)? Who does she root for or does she discreetly pull a book out of her purse?

The Library

Ah, my haven. Enough about me…what does she do?

Does she dart in and out within a matter of seconds? Does story time catch her eye? Is she able to carry all of her books out without tripping? What kinds of books has she checked out? Does she ask anyone’s opinion about a specific book? Does she use the library system to look anything up or browse randomly?

An Elementary School Field Trip

Yah hoo…a field trip.

It almost doesn’t matter where she goes. What’s more important is how she interacts with the children. Is she constantly rolling her eyes or is she laughing and giving high fives as they learn new things? Did she preplan and bring wipes for sticky hands? Does she take notes? Is she sad because of something she remembers about her own childhood? Where does she sit on the bus?


Pretty sure I don’t need to expound upon this one much.

Her actions will scream at you if you choose to bring her here. Tears, non-stop fidgeting, swaying to the worship music, going over her bills, head bent in reverent prayer? Watch closely. See her. Let her show you who she is.

Have you ever been inspired to come up with unconventional ways of getting to know your characters better? Which one of the above has the potential to reveal the most about a character you’ve created?


 Bio: Wendy lives in New England with her husband, their three young girls, and a skunk-dodging Samoyed. She feels most alive when she’s spending time with loved ones, speeding on a boat, reading, writing, refurbishing furniture or taking risks. Her work has been published in Christian Fiction Online and in numerous anthologies, including Love is a Flame published by Bethany House. She graduated with a BA in English from Wittenberg University, where she earned an Honor of Distinction for her accrued knowledge of literature. Visit http://thoughtsthatmove.blogspot.com/ to learn more about Wendy. Or check out her Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Writer-Wendy-Paine-Miller/232985413400039 and Twitter https://twitter.com/wendypmiller pages.


Filed under Writing

What Your Character’s Wheels Say About How He Rolls

I read an article the other day that stated that you can tell a lot about a woman’s personality based on her shoes.

I think that’s probably true. But I believe the same is true about a vehicle.

I drive a car similar to this one.

Toyota Highlander

I love my small SUV. I’ve got kids, so it’s big enough to hold us and all our stuff. And I will not drive a mini-van. I will not.

You can tell a lot about a character in a book based on what kind of vehicle they drive.

When I write, I take a little bit of time to consider my character’s method of transportation, because it needs to fit with his or her personality.

It’s an important part of character development. If you write your character with well defined traits, you can throw off your reader if you don’t have those traits match the physical things in your character’s world.

For example, my highfaluting snob of a business exec isn’t going to drive a 4-wheel drive pick-up with mud flaps.

Here are some vehicles with personalities to match for your consideration.

The Audi TT Coupe. For the spy in your life. He’s mysterious with a need for speed.




The Ford F-150. For the rugged outdoorsman. Cowboy-esque.







The Subaru Outback. For the granola-loving hiker who tends to see overabundance everywhere.





The Toyota Prius. For the up-and-coming businessman who’s also an environmentalist.





The Jaguar XJ. For the CEO, lawyer, or wanna be.








What about the ladies?

The Chrysler Town and Country. It screams Soccer Mom.





The Honda Accord. For the practical young woman who still wants to remain stylish.





  The Honda CRV. A small SUV that says “I don’t need a man, but if I find one, there’s room for kids.”






Share with me: Two questions for you today. 1. Pick a recent manuscript. What do your hero and heroine drive, and what do the vehicles you’ve chosen for them say about their personalities? 2. What do YOU drive and what does it say about you?


Filed under Writing