Factors in how fast we complete a book


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    What makes us read one book in a single day while another in a week? This is what I wish to discuss. Now there are some obvious variables such as Words-Per-Minute (WPM), and the length of the book. But I am not interested in those points, I am more interested in the writing of the book. I believe the Pacing is one of the biggest variables for how long (or how long it feels like) to read a book. For the Pacing, I specifically mean the Beats of the story; A Beat is essentially a change in the story. a Scene is made up of Beats and for a scene, the "State" of the story or character(s) must change from the beginning to the end, an example is MC is happy at the start of the scene now MC is sad at the end. Nekomonogatari (Black) has an 80-page chapter or what I will call a scene wherein the beginning Araragi is in love with Hanekawa (or at least think he is) and at the end, he realizes he is only in love with his image of Hanekawa. I also like this chapter because it basically is a miniature scene of what the rest of the book is about. I think The Monogatari series is a brilliant example of great pacing while Accel World is a great example of very poor pacing. When Reki Kawahara writes, he just seems to drag on and on and on and on and on and on and on and... well you get the point (Kawahara does not get to the point when he writes).

    well what do you guys think? what are some series that you read pretty quickly? What are some series that you read pretty slowly? What series makes you go "Oh! Its already [insert time]." what are some series that make you go "What! That felt like it has been twice as long!"



  • I find that interest is the most important factor for me, with the quality of the prose following shortly after. I find that even if the pacing is a crawl, like in Isekai Mahou and Grimgar, I can just fly through them because those two factors are there. Likewise, if one of those factors are absent, I can take a bit longer to finish. A couple examples of that would be the Sword Oratoria series due to a lack of interest and Shield Hero due to the bad prose. I still ultimately enjoy and finish the volumes (I'd drop them otherwise), but at a much slower pace than my favorites.


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    @falcade said in Factors in how fast we complete a book:

    I find that even if the pacing is a crawl, like in Isekai Mahou and Grimgar, I can just fly through them because those two factors are there.

    I think I may need to clarify a bit when I mean Pacing. I was more interested in what you could say is the rate of Story-beats. You can have a story that is "Slow Paced" but it has so many story-beats that it keeps your attention and things never feel like they are "Slow paced."

    A good Youtube video is: Death Note: How To Write Binge-Worthy Television

    I think this will probably explain what I mean better. I think when you say "the quality of the prose" is important I think part of that is the beats too.


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    @drone205 To me quality of prose has little to do with story beats and a lot to do with well written interesting sentences. To be honest, using the whole story beats thing as a metric would make Dan Brown (of the Davinci Code) a master writer and JG Ballard (one of my personal favorites) a terrible writer.

    Psychological honesty matters a lot to me. Do the characters behave in a real way? If the names weren’t written down could I tell which character is which? Are characters simply cyphers or mouthpieces for the author or do they have independence?

    I haven’t read much Nisioisin, but from the little I’ve read I can’t tell one character from the other outside of a few cutesy catchphrases whereas though many hate him, I find Reki Kawahara creates characters who have unique personalities and operate based on their own set of goals, fears and desires. I actually think he’s one of the best LN authors I’ve read for this.

    But that’s just one metric, there’s thousands of metrics and all of them used in isolation of others can be used to “prove” this is good or this is bad, but it never really works. Because there is no absolute good or bad in writing and also no one actually is motivated by just one factor, it’s thousands of factors, many of which we don’t even consciously recognize.

    So I’m answer, I read a book fast or slow based on whether I’m reading it fast or slow. I’ve taken a day on some volumes of Rokujouma, others take me a month. How it’s written factors in to some degree, but the constantly evolving situations in my life factor way more. Sometimes I want to read one at a time, sometimes I want to read a ton of books at once, whatever really.


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    Personally, I think it has more to do with how much our interest as a reader aligns with the interest of the author. But I have to agree on what you said about story beats.

    Since you mentioned Accel World, it's weird since for me, it's one of the more interesting series I've read, albeit hardly a "light" one. I mean, I feel like I need to spend energy to read it, yet I can still enjoy it better than the latter arcs of Sword Art Online.


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    @shrike_al said in Factors in how fast we complete a book:

    Since you mentioned Accel World, it's weird since for me, it's one of the more interesting series I've read, albeit hardly a "light" one. I mean, I feel like I need to spend energy to read it, yet I can still enjoy it better than the latter arcs of Sword Art Online.

    I feel like in Accel World, the Story-Beats seem to be only like 1 beat per chapter (or at least it feels like it), maybe 2. I like the characters in Accel World (even though they are kind of plain and boring if you put too much thought into it), in fact, the only reason I stuck to Accel World for as long as I did was because of the characters. I LOVE the characters and Story in the Monogatari series, The characters just Bleed personality and character is also the story of the Monogatari series. It helps for the Monogatari series that it continues to drive forward and not come to a complete stop, I swear Monogatari has like one beat every 2-4 pages or so (a possible exageration, but it feels like it).

    Also when @the-green-death said, "To be honest, using the whole story beats thing as a metric would make Dan Brown (of the Davinci Code) a master writer and JG Ballard (one of my personal favorites) a terrible writer." I never said the more beats the better, It is just a story becomes boring when there is no change. I have not read any of J G Ballards stories but I feel like he uses beats often (or often enough to keep the readers' attention).

    I think to help argue my point about beats we should look at a comparison between anime and manga. we can compare manga One Piece (OP) to anime OP (which I hear adapts like one chapter per episode now) and see which people like more. another would the Black Clover Anime (witch even the first three episodes did not even adapt chapter two) vs the Black Clover manga. take those example and compare them the Food Wars anime and the My Hero Academia anime. An anime adaption of a Manga should adopt 2-3 chapters per episode (weekly release type, manga where a chapter is realeased on a monthly basis are usually long and can be adapted in 1 episode for the most part), this is because if you adapt less then you drag on and the pacing is too slow (the story beats are too far apart) and you cant reasonably adapt more than that without losing material. My Hero Academia anime has adapted 100 chapters in 50 episodes and the anime is paced pretty good.

    I can see why how quickly someone reads a book has "more to do with how much our interest as a reader aligns with the interest of the author" as @shrike_al says but as they already said: "I feel like I need to spend energy to read [Accel World]" and they still enjoy it. I take this as @shrike_al interest aligning with Reki Kawahara's interest. I find reading Accel world a chore to read, while I can read something like shield Hero or Smartphone or Konosuba in a single sitting with ease.

    well, this is getting pretty long if anyone else has anything to add to this discussion, whether they agree or disagree if they have an idea that has not been touched upon yet then do so (maybe even short chapter vs long chapters... though that kind of goes into the whole beats thing as a chapter needs at least one beat).


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    Mine is much simpler: I listen to my books the TTS while I'm driving or doing chores. More I drive, the more I listen to. :)

    That said, there is only one book that I've bought where I didn't finish and I just stopped reading half way through: Paying to Win (vol 1). I know it was a parody, but I just didn't like it.

    I started to read siskan when it was on catch up, and also decided that it didn't sit well with me.

    Perhaps parodies are not my thing.


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    I just got the first two volumes of Didn't I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! and I finished both in less than two days. I just could not put the book down, one moment A is happening but almost as soon as A happened we get B, and we just have to see what happens and then C happens almost right away; There is absolutely no fluff or unimportant content in this series. This series does not have long periods of nothingness like many other series have. I had to force myself to put this series down and other series such as Shield Hero, Konosuba, Vending Machine, Smartphone etc. because I just would not stop reading it until I finished the book. Even the fights have so much content in them where something like Accel World drags out almost every fight to the point where we just want it to stop, We get it, the game is supposed to be a game, its supposed to be fun not ruined by some guy. I also just noticed that most of the series I just can not put down were originally WN, so they typically would have short chapters and each chapter needed something to happen or change and be interesting, so where some LN will take 2-5 times longer to get to the important points or have something happen, a WN needs to keep the readers hooked wanting more and tuning in next week or month for a new chapter, so they make something happen, they change something, they introduce something, they conclude something, they add to something, they progress something, they do not add fluff (unless it is something like Chinese WN where they get paid by word-count).