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ink wench
07-18-2007, 07:21 PM
(Hey, catchy titles are important, right?)

So, do you easily get sucked in to a story? What does it take to "hook" you?

I've recently come to the realization that I'm not easy to hook. I can almost always put a book down within the first couple chapters. Continuing to read is just something I do because it's there, and maybe the back cover promises something interesting so I wait it out. The books that do turn into page-turners for me are often the ones that it takes me the longest to get into.

Anyone else? Or am I just weird? (Wait, I know the answer to that.)

maestrowork
07-18-2007, 07:53 PM
Like you, I'm really hard to please.

Meerkat
07-18-2007, 08:01 PM
The title is what has me turn the book over to read the synopsis. I only read one or two books a year. I buy dozens, of course. But any work--fiction or non-- has to hook me from its first page; or it is set aside forever.

auntybug
07-18-2007, 08:19 PM
I have started a lot of books that I almost put down and decided I had to finish it & I was glad I did.

I was worried with my 1st book that the first few chapters aren't quite the "grab you" ones but later on its a "can't put it down". It has a nice flow so I'd hate to change anything. You have me scared Meercat....

Number 2 switches characters from chapter to chapter back and forth to keep you wanting to read. I hope that works....

(Of course #1 is still in editing so we'll see...)

Sorry I'm not a help... I don't give up on anything. I give it a shot. I've wanted to walk out of movies & wish I did - I actually had to on Time Bandits though (if anyone remembers that from the 80's!)

Celia Cyanide
07-18-2007, 08:23 PM
I'm very hard to hook, too. I actually finish every book I read, just because I'm afraid if I allowed myself to quit, I might never finish anything. Probably not true, but I get distracted by other books I would like to read.

Will Lavender
07-18-2007, 08:25 PM
I only read things that are recommended to me. Thankfully, I read a ton of book reviews and get a lot of recommendations on these boards.

Well, I shouldn't say "only." Occasionally I will go in the store and just pick something off the shelves. But that's very rare.

When you're reading novels that have received good reviews, then I think it's easier for that book to wield some power over you. Often, if I can't get into a book right away, I'll often tell myself, "Well, Mr. Reviewer liked it, so I've got to give it a chance."

heatheringemar
07-18-2007, 08:25 PM
For me, it depends, and I can't really say why with some stories, you have to get a crowbar and the jaws of life to tear the book from my hands, while with others, even a branding iron under my butt won't push me to pick it up.

Del
07-18-2007, 08:36 PM
How can you hook everyone on the first page when tastes are so varied? What is this need for instant gratification so many have developed? I have never read a book that has grabbed my interest before a few dozen pages. I usually complete a book I have started simply with the hope there will be moments of interest. I have finished reading books and wondered what anyone saw in them to publish but from a writer's perspective I get something from it...how not to write. I chalk it up to education.

If it becomes obvious that the writer used shortcuts, lacked imagination or it actually bored me to tears (and some that made me angry) it goes in the closet. There have been more books that I was glad I kept reading than there have been of those I've put down.

Rejecting a book because the first two pages didn't grab you seems like a way to miss out on some really good books.

Petroglyph
07-18-2007, 08:38 PM
The last mystery I read, I figured out the solution in the first 3rd of the book. I kept reading because I wanted to make sure I was right (I was). I also kept reading because I enjoyed the voice, the characters, and the setting. There are other books I do put down unfinished...it's usually because the voice turns me off. It was a really interesting experience, because before that book, I would have said that a good plot is the only thing that hooks me.

Meerkat
07-18-2007, 08:45 PM
How can you hook everyone on the first page when tastes are so varied? What is this need for instant gratification so many have developed? I have never read a book that has grabbed my interest before a few dozen pages. I usually complete a book I have started simply with the hope there will be moments of interest. I have finished reading books and wondered what anyone saw in them to publish but from a writer's perspective I get something from it...how not to write. I chalk it up to education.

If it becomes obvious that the writer used shortcuts, lacked imagination or it actually bored me to tears (and some that made me angry) it goes in the closet. There have been more books that I was glad I kept reading than there have been of those I've put down.

Rejecting a book because the first two pages didn't grab you seems like a way to miss out on some really good books.

Right! I call it playing "publisher/agent for a day!"

Sassee
07-18-2007, 09:08 PM
There was only one book I ever put down and didn't finish, and it was because the writing style and voice seriously annoyed me to no end. I couldn't make myself keep reading it (said book actually had a pretty good hook).

Generally I'm of the belief that first impressions aren't always right, and I have a massive amount of curiosity, so I tend to keep reading even if the hook isn't the best in the world. Good thing too, because I would have missed out on a lot of great stories and characters. Plus, it's just part of my personality to try and find the "good" in something. Gives me a more well-rounded view of everything and allows me to get into people's heads better. I always want to know the "how" and "why" of things.

Ninja Bunny, attempting to change the phrase to "curiosity killed the bunny"

Jamesaritchie
07-18-2007, 09:32 PM
Rejecting a book because the first two pages didn't grab you seems like a way to miss out on some really good books.


It is a way of missing an occasional great book. Maybe one in a thousand, if that. But it's also a way of missing out on at least 999 really bad books.

I think almost everyone has this attitude when they first begin reading slush. It takes from a week to a month before they realize how wrong they are. Experience soon teaches you that the first few pages are almost always the best in a novel, and when they're bad, or when they simply don't hold your interest, the rest of the novel won't, either.

I don't care much for words such as "hook" or "grab." One reason so many manuscripts that come though the slush don't get read is because the writer thinks he has to actively hook or grab the slush reader. "Interest" is a much better word. You have to make the reader stay interested, and this is seldom done with a hook or a grab of the kind so many writers think will work.

From my experience, wondering what will next happen to a good character is what matters. Not what happens to him in those first two pages, but what will happen to him later. Curiosity and empathy keep readers interested, not being hooked or grabbed.

So many writers seem to think they need a stick of dynamite going off on the first page to keep an agent or editor interested. In reality, this is a way to make most agents and editors lose interest. What the writer really needs is simply an interesting character who's in an interesting situation.

Not a stick of dynamite, but a lit fuse of unknown length, and a character the reader immediately likes enough to want to see him get through the story without that fuse leading to a stick of dynamite that does blow him up.

Harper K
07-18-2007, 10:12 PM
I only read things that are recommended to me. Thankfully, I read a ton of book reviews and get a lot of recommendations on these boards.

Well, I shouldn't say "only." Occasionally I will go in the store and just pick something off the shelves. But that's very rare.

When you're reading novels that have received good reviews, then I think it's easier for that book to wield some power over you. Often, if I can't get into a book right away, I'll often tell myself, "Well, Mr. Reviewer liked it, so I've got to give it a chance."

I'm the same way. When I'm opening a book for the first time, I generally already know its reputation. I've probably read some reviews either in a magazine or on Amazon. I've probably looked at the author's website (if he/she has one) and I've probably read an excerpt of the book, if there's one available. And I may have talked to a friend who's read the book, too.

So when I finally get around to reading that first chapter, I'm usually pretty sure that I'm going to like the book. Even if the first chapter doesn't wow me, or is slow to start, there's something else about the book that's drawn me in, whether it's great reviews, a recommendation from a trusted friend or an author I like, a character I'm sure I'm going to love, or just a connection I feel with the author from learning about his/her life and work.

So far this year, there's only been one book I started and didn't finish. Just wasn't the right time for the book (a somewhat heavy historical novel), and I know I'll get back to it eventually. It's by an author whose other work I like, and I've read several fascinating interviews with him about the process of writing the book in question. I'm fairly certain that I'll enjoy the book once I have a good chunk of time to devote to it. (Probably after my novel draft is finished.)

ChaosTitan
07-19-2007, 03:24 AM
If I can put the book down after a few chapters without regret, or some small need to read "just one more before bedtime," I probably won't finish it. I have too many books on my shelves, and not enough time in the day to force myself through a book that isn't grabbing me right off.

Maybe I miss good books, maybe not. But since "good book" is subjective, anyhow, probably not. If I thought it was good, I wouldn't have stopped reading it.

Del
07-19-2007, 03:52 AM
It is a way of missing an occasional great book. Maybe one in a thousand, if that. But it's also a way of missing out on at least 999 really bad books.



I was under the impression the question from the OP related to published books. If someone felt the book was worthy of publish then that gives a leading edge to my manner of thought. But if we are to discuss slush piles and WIP and the unpublished then I suppose the shoe is on the other horse. We are quick to know crap once it is stepped in.

Azraelsbane
07-19-2007, 04:08 AM
Angels, Vampires, Dragons... I'm there.

maestrowork
07-19-2007, 05:34 AM
I was under the impression the question from the OP related to published books. If someone felt the book was worthy of publish then that gives a leading edge to my manner of thought.

Just because something is on the shelf of your grocery store doesn't mean you would want to eat it.

Del
07-19-2007, 06:15 AM
Just because something is on the shelf of your grocery store doesn't mean you would want to eat it.

But I might taste it.

RLB
07-19-2007, 06:36 AM
If a book is really good, I get sucked in to the exclusion of all else- sleep, household chores, personal hygene, what-have-you. My husband always groans when I can't put a book down, because he knows he's lost me for a couple of days. But the book has to be really good.

lfraser
07-19-2007, 08:02 AM
I'm not as easy to please as I once was. I think writing has caused me to become more critical in my reading.

Will Lavender
07-19-2007, 08:26 AM
I'm not as easy to please as I once was. I think writing has caused me to become more critical in my reading.

I think this is the case for many writers. I've noticed since I joined AW a lot of panning going on. There's a lot of praise, yes, but it seems like I've read some variation of the "I'm hard to please when it comes to literature" line a thousand times in the last couple of months.

I'm not really like that, because I read like a reader and not a writer most of the time. This sometimes isn't a good thing, however, as I'll go through periods where I don't learn much from the books that I read--I just read them for entertainment.

But ultimately, I think I want to have fun when I read. I want people to have fun when they read me. If everything is a learning experience, then you run the risk of getting burnt out on the one thing that made us all love the written word in the first place.

Scrawler
07-19-2007, 08:32 AM
The characters have to grab me. I need to care about them right away or I dump them. I love to read, and for the most part, I'm easy to please. Although I find some of the "Oprah's Book Club"-type selections don't do it for me. Maybe I'm just happier with crappy, snappy commercial junk?

kristie911
07-19-2007, 12:22 PM
I'm easily sucked in and normally will finish any book even if I don't particularly care for it. I have no problem suspending belief and will forgive an author almost anything as long as the characters are decent and the story is going somewhere.

ink wench
07-19-2007, 04:27 PM
I think this is the case for many writers. I've noticed since I joined AW a lot of panning going on. There's a lot of praise, yes, but it seems like I've read some variation of the "I'm hard to please when it comes to literature" line a thousand times in the last couple of months.
I am hard to please, but I don't think writing has made me any harder. It takes a while for me to get drawn in to anything, be it books, movies, music, whatever. But I know this, which is why I rarely quit on a book, and I've ended up greatly enjoying lots of stories that I thought were "eh" when I started them. I'm probably the last person anyone would want to read slush though. I'd be saying "eh, whatever" to everything.

aka eraser
07-19-2007, 07:39 PM
The older I get, the harder I am to hook. Which only makes sense when you figger I've eaten thousands of books and nibbled on 10X that many. I've tossed books at the wall at page one and page 400 -- wherever and whenever the author has (IMO) blown it.

Oddsocks
07-20-2007, 02:21 PM
I used to get hooked so easily. It was wonderful. Now that I'm more alert to cliches and all of the 'dont's' of writing, I find it a lot harder to get involved. I even find myself thinking, when a character is introduced, "if he ends up with her, I'm giving up on this", or, when a character dies, "if he comes back, that's it".

I find it very saddening. I desperately want to get into a story the way I used to, so I'm constantly looking for that perfect story which gets everything right. Of course, being picky means that when you do find that ultimate story, you really appreciate it.

Kate Thornton
07-20-2007, 06:06 PM
I read everything, even stuff I don't like. Right now, I am going through "A Year of Pleasures" by Elizabeth Berg. The first 1/3 of the book alternated between lugubrious and boring. The second third had me appreciating the author's language. The last third has hooked me. I'm glad I persevered. There is a payoff.

So much of our judgement is just personal gut reaction - I try not to let it get in the way of a good story.

Sometimes the water is calm and tepid when you step in, and you're neck deep before you see the maelstrom.

Simon Woodhouse
07-21-2007, 06:29 AM
The style of the prose often hooks me. It's got to be evocative but not too flowery. Simple, clever metaphors help to draw me in. Tight descriptions that don't dwell on periphery details are easier to read. If the author can give me the feeling of a place or a character in just a couple of paragraphs, that goes along way to hooking me.

rhymegirl
07-21-2007, 07:58 AM
Good question.

I'm very hard to hook. I have a ton of unfinished reading--books I started but never finished. I can easily read a few pages of something and put it down. Even the cereal box I might not finish reading.