- Stories that challenge injustices (To Kill a Mockingbird and most of Dickens’ back catalogue are good examples!).
- Stories that change my mind about something I thought I knew. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey changed my opinion about Richard III.
- Stories that take me completely into their world so when I finish reading I feel almost bereft, sorry to go.
- Stories that show me a whole new world. Sci-fi and fantasy are the best for this. Yes I know I can be shown a whole new world on earth but I prefer what other worlds in some universe could be like.
- Decent one-liners that make me laugh.
- A story that shows me motivations or stresses characters are under that I might not have considered before. For example murders are committed for serious reasons and to what appears to others to be trivial ones. Yet a good story will take you into the mind of that murderer and show why the trivial reason isn’t trivial to them.
- Good, sharp pace with quiet bits in between giving me good background on the setting and characters, knowing said quiet bits are gearing the reader up for the next big scene.
- A satisfactory ending, which is not the same as a happy one necessarily. The ending has to be right for the story and the main character. It won’t feel right if the match isn’t there.
- Characters I can rally behind (or metaphorically boo for) but either reaction has to be genuine. I don’t want to see the author’s hand making their characters act in a certain way. The characters’ acting has to be realistic for those characters.
- I love getting to the end of a story or novel and in a sense wishing neither had ended. Always a sign of a well told tale! Going back over a story/novel and picking up the bits I missed first go around. This is particularly true for a detective novel. I always miss some of the clues on the first read!
- I like a happy ending where the hero/heroine has “earned” it. I also like to see villains get their comeuppance but again in a realistic manner. Villains generally are not going to fall apart. They can be caught out.
I'm Allison Symes and write fairytales with bite, especially novels and short stories.