Thursday, July 22, 2010

Deal or no Deal?

I haven't felt like reading the past few days. Bad sign?
I went through three novels last week, and now my brain is saying, "Whoooaa Nelly!"
This is a bummer for many reasons. I started an excellent book that already has me
captivated and I'm only on page sixty. [Only 724 more pages to go.] This doesn't
happen to me very often; I don't get attached this easily.

You see the first fifty pages are the clencher. Making the decision to turn to page fifty-one, I always feel as though I can see Howie Mandel's shiny bald head peering over my shoulder; he's yelling, "Deal or no deal?" at the top of his annoying lungs.

But he poses an interesting question: should I keep reading?

I used to have the philosophy that life is far too short to read bad books. Now that I want to be an editor, this reasoning has weakened just a tad. After all, I'm going to have to know how to transform bad books into something somewhat enjoyable... so I can't simply gloss over the "Ehh" reads.

The point is, we all know what we like, and it doesn't take us too long to figure out if the
bound pages sitting in our lap will fit our qualifications for a "better than great" read.
It's usually about fifty pages, right?

Authors who start off slow aren't doing anyone any favors, least of all themselves.
Dive right in, people. No body [really] cares about the description of the pretty
carnations outside the ornate mansion in which your main character is dwelling.
Or maybe we do, but not twenty pages worth right at the beginning.
Herman Melville, take note.

Our job is to make readers care. No one likes to recommend a book that you
have to preface with: "Just get to the eighth chapter and it's sooo great!"
How come it can't be great from page one, line one?

If you think the carnation description is absolutely vital,
save it for later. Your readers need to be interested first. That's they key. Otherwise, they're going to succumb to Howie's tempting offer to close your book and head for the hills.

Have you ever read a book that seemed to drag on forever at the beginning?
Why did/didn't you decide to keep reading?


  1. If I'm not instantly captivated, it feels like a chore to keep reading (still, I feel like I can't quit on a book).

    So what book are you reading that you like so well?

  2. I tried to read "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho multiple times. I know, I know, the book itself isn't very long, but the reason why I stopped reading in the middle of page eighty one was because I didn't care about the characters anymore. I didn't care about the process OR the end result of the storyline, therefore, I posted it on and let someone who sought it out determine whether it was good or not because, unfortunately, I couldn't care less about the contents of the book.

  3. I did that to "Their Eyes Were Watching God"? I try to force myself to keep reading, like with "Tell No One" by Harlen Coben. It took me 8 months to get through that book because I would sit down and forget about it for a few weeks. But I was glad I finished it!