Hey all…It’s time for another top ten list. This month it’s Ways to Hook Me as a Reader. Now, I’m not sure if this will solely be ways to hook me or might end up having points of how NOT to hook me, or lose me, lol. But I’ll try to stay on topic. Soooo, here we go.
10 — I hate to put this in here, because as an author, I hate writing them, but…. a good blurb will get me to buy your book in the first place. That and an interesting cover. If neither of these are done well, I probably won’t even pick up the book, either literally or virtually, and you won’t have a chance to hook me. So, ensure you put your best foot forward here.
9 — Likeable characters. I know this seems silly, but if the guy is a total douchbag, with no redeeming qualities… I’m probably not going to continue to read the book. This doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a bad boy or a guy who’s a bit of an ass—adorable asses are one of my faves. But if he’s going to be a jerk, he’d best redeem himself along the way or the book will end up hitting the wall.
8 — Words I can actually read. Okay, this might need a bit of explaining. I don’t mean you have to use the vocabulary of a 5th grader. I mean more along the lines of not using too much dialect. I read a book once with a Scottish hero and I swear it took me twice as long to try and puzzle out his dialogue because it was all super deep brogue that was more frustrating than anything to read. I ended up skipping parts because it just wasn’t worth trying to figure out the accent. I mean, tell me he’s Scottish.. toss a few common Scottish words in there, and I’m good. Don’t make me wade through pages of horrible, awkward dialect. The same goes with super ‘big’ words. Don’t use obscure meanings from a thesaurus that will make me feel like I truly am a fifth grader. I don’t mind some unusual words sprinkled throughout, but if I to check my dictionary every other page… I’ll be putting that book down.
7 — Ensuring your book actually fits the genre you’re writing in. If it’s a suspense book, there’d better be some suspense in it, lol. My old classic saying is when I used to edit, I was given an erotic novel to edit that had absolutely no erotic content. Which is fine, except then it’s not an erotic romance. There will be sex in this sex book, lol. So, don’t call it a romance then hand me a straight paranormal where the couple barely acknowledge each other. Stay true to what you’re marketing.
6 — Good editing. I can overlook the odd forgotten word, wrong word or spelling mistake. Hell, shit happens and I know that pretty much every book has an error in it somewhere. This isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about those books where the author didn’t think they even needed an editor or it was a sad attempt at best. If the book is riddled with errors. If the characters continually sit down twice or go from being dressed to miraculously naked in every scene… then you’ll lose me. Also along with this is good formatting. JUSTIFY PRINT BOOKS PEOPLE. It seems silly but that jagged right edge in a print book enrages me.
5 — A action packed or dramatically strong opening. It’s an old saying but it’s true. I’m more apt to keep reading if something happens in the first chapter or two to grab my attention. If you make me wait too long, I might get too distracted and stop reading. The first book in the Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan is an example. It’s a great book and I’m glad I toughed it out, but it was nearly 100 pages before I was truly invested. Well over 50 before anything happened and I was ready to put it down. So… shock me early and I’ll forgive some dull periods later.
4 — Not too many descriptions. Okay, I know some folks like to have things detailed down to what kind of swirls are on the wallpaper, but I’m not one of those folks. Just give me enough so I can picture the scene in my head. Besides, I like to picture the hero in my own head. If you detail too much, I can’t create them to be to my liking. So… tall, dark-haired with blue eyes that rival the sea is great. I don’t need to know how many freckles he has or what kind of hair products he uses.
3 — Good plot. I’ll read lots of different genres, but if you want me to keep turning the pages, there has to be something more than just Sally met Harry… and never had an argument or that restaurant scene… I like a few detours in my books. That doesn’t mean you have to follow a formula. It just means if there are a few different ideas running through the book, I’m more likely to get hooked and keep reading when I should be doing other things… Stephen King is a wizard at this. He’s unnatural in his ability to weave all sorts of threads together.
2 — Strong female characters. Okay, not every heroine has to have a black belt in Muay Ti, or be some kind of crack shot, or a Marshal, spy, cop, etc. But… and this is huge for me, if they’re a doormat. If they do things that are too stupid to live. If they just sit there crying waiting to be rescued… or as Sydney would say from Scream…. if the bitch is running up the stairs when she should be running out the door… I won’t finish the story. So… let’s celebrate strong heroines, who hold their heads high and aren’t afraid to get a bit dirty.
1 — Snappy and realistic dialogue. I’m not sure why this is my number one. Maybe it’s because it makes everything feel far more real to me. So, please….don’t use character’s names every other line. Don’t forget to use contractions… and no, just because it’s historical doesn’t mean they didn’t speak in contractions. Trust me, humans are lazy by nature. We’ve been shortening EVERYTHING since the dawn of time.
And there you have it. Now jump on over to the other ladies and see what keeps them turning those pages.