What Makes a Squeaky Book

A guest blog by Q

What makes a book (in the words of my esteemed patroness Enna Isilee) squeaky? I've compiled a short list of things a book ought to have to be awarded this prestigious adjective.

1. Characters
In my opinion, characters can make or break the book. If I don't like the characters, chances are I won't like the book very much either, unless I don't like the characters (i.e. the first Artemis Fowl) in a good way (if that makes any sense at all). Squeaky characters should be distinct and real--and having a funny character in a book isn't a bad plan, either. There shouldn't be so many characters that it gets confusing. And I usually think it's a good thing when I yell and scream at the characters, because it means I care about them. Unless it's Eldest, in which case yelling and screaming at the characters is not good at all.

2. Plot
Plot is kind of like a character. It should make sense, and it shouldn't be too complex to follow, especially in a short book. I often like it when the author strings the reader along and then when you think everything is resolved says, "Just kidding! You didn't really solve the problem!" and makes everything fall apart. If they do it well, that mean twist can be really fun.

3. Beginning and ending
A beginning should introduce the reader to the setting and characters, but most importantly it should get the reader involved with the plot. Squeaky beginings should draw readers in, wrapping tendrils of story around them until they couldn't put the book down if they wanted to.
Endings should wraps everything up--all the loose ends, subplots, everything. The very last pages of a book should make readers cry (The Book Thief), laugh (Rapunzel's Revenge), swoon (The Queen of Attolia), tear their hair out in a good way (The Well of Ascension), or just sit back contentedly with the knowledge that for one brief moment all is at peace in the world (Harry Potter).

4. Length
The book should be just long enough to tell the story--no shorter, no longer. Length is an often overlooked but crucial element in a story. All too often long stories fizzle out in the middle while characters do almost nothing, then the author seems to remember that there is a story to tell and makes the ending really good. Long books should not run out of crucial plot elements to tell--even if the author wants to give a sense of waiting. A squeaky long book (Elantris) should have a lot happening all the time. Waiting for something to happen should be kept to a minimum (Not a book, but "Ratatouille" does a good job with this). Short books can feel rushed. A squeaky short book should feel tight--like it told exactly the story it wanted to with no ifs, ands, or buts (The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Speak).

5. Language
Is extremely important. After all, I can't very well read it if it's in Bali, can I?
Just kidding. That's not what I meant.
Some writers do really well with wordiness (Robin McKinley). However, I think it takes a special kind of writer to make wordiness squeaky. Most of the time, writers should strive to take out any unnecessary words.

Gosh, that sounded an awful lot like writing advice. Oops. Who am I to be giving anyone advice about writing?


  1. I love this post. That is not an exaggeration. It was honest, which was great. And you had great examples. And I really, really agree. :D

  2. P&P much? Haha. Esteemed patroness... :)

  3. Merissa: Oh thank you!

    Danielle: I was hoping someone would catch that!

  4. : Language. Is extremely important. After all, I can't very well read it if it's in Bali, can I?:

    Haha. You rock, Q.

  5. : Language. Is extremely important. After all, I can't very well read it if it's in Bali, can I?:

    Haha. You rock, Q.

  6. Q, I adore you! This was a fabulous analysis. Speaking of writing, I should have your story back to you very shortly!

  7. This was definitely fun to read, and I don't see it as writing advice in a bad way...after all, all readers know what they like to read and that's basically what you were saying.

    Characters are definitely a big thing for me. I have to get attached to them in some way most of the time.



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