I have come to realize that I read books for relationships. I used to believe that I read a book for the plot, for the world of the story, for the adventure, for shenanigans abound. That isn’t the case anymore.
When I first began seriously reading, characters were more like vessels that navigated the narrative of a novel. I might like them, but really, they were just a means to an end. I cared more about the adventure, about what might happen in the story that would never happen to me. It was about experiencing worlds I would never know.
Over the course of the years, I came to care for characters, hope with them, dream with them, hate and love with them. I loved the adventures and the world the characters lived in, too. Recently however, I’m beginning to care less and less about plot, less and less about adventure. It’s come the point where I read a book for the relationships, romantic or not. Some stories don’t have romantic interests. Some stories are pure adventure. I enjoy those too, just not nearly as much as stories with romance. Plot is still important, but like my original view of characters, the plot is just a path that they take. Without it, the characters have no road to follow; there is no reason for their story to be told. Plot brings people together and tears them apart, building that emotional roller-coaster.
I’ve come to expect engaging relationships in books or movies. The series of books I’m reading right now, I care about the cast of characters, so much so that feel as if they’re my friends (no, I’m not crazy). I care about their relationships with one another. I want their friendships and their romances to withstand all other forces. I want them to be happy. The only reason I continue to read the books is for the need for the main character to finally be with the man she loves. Yes, the adventures are dangerous, often life-threatening, but they’re in the background.
What elicited this change, I do not know, but I find myself enjoying tender moments between characters, more so than the swashbuckling sword-fight with dark forces or the epic space battle. Maybe it’s the books I read. Maybe the author is great at characterization and not so great at plot development. Maybe it's just my tastes.
Whatever the case, my perception of stories has changed. I can’t settle for melodrama or flat relationships. I need meaningful connection in the stories I experience. I want to cry for the characters. I want to smile ear to ear when they accomplish their goals. I want to laugh. I want to shudder in fear. A story without that just feels like something less.
Do you read books or watch movies for the plot or for the characters? How do you feel about emotion connection in stories? How do you feel about romance in non-romance genre fiction?