Today’s Round Robin topic: What glues you to a story start to finish? And/Or what hooks do you use to capture your readers?
This is an interesting question because I don’t generally think in terms of what keeps me reading, but rather in terms of what will turn me off. So, thinking in terms of what keeps me reading is a bit of a switch. I know what I like, but defining it is new. What am I looking for? In essence, good storytelling. But what is good storytelling? My list may be different from yours, but this is mine.
- The protagonists are sympathetic and likable. I want to root for them to win, to overcome, to escape, to do whatever it is that they need to do.
- I want to see a character arc. There doesn’t have to be a huge amount of growth, but a realistic amount for the story line. Some characters will grow more than others, and that’s fine.
- The characters stay true to the personality the author has established. If they do something out of character, there better be a good reason for it that is germane to the story line and character.
- The story is somewhat unpredictable. I like happy endings, but I don’t want to be able to predict how I am going to get to that happy ending. I think this is why I am a pantser rather than a plotter. Once I start plotting out my entire story, I lose all interest in it. Of course, my characters will often change my plans anyway. For instance, in my upcoming release The Whispering House, I had planned on writing this one scene, but my characters decided that they wanted to have sex at that time. Or the opposite happens. I thought it was time for a sex scene, but the characters completely disagreed. Part of why I find my stories fun to write is because I never quite know what I’m going to write.
- Grammar and punctuation. I know there will be errors no matter how hard you try to eradicate them, but I expect well-written prose. If there are errors and a lot of them, I will be lost.
- Correct facts, especially in historical or science fiction novels. Well, in any, really.
- A good blend between description and action. No data dumps.
- Regardless of the genre, I want the story to be believable. Even if it’s fantasy, the author must build their world, and their story, in such a way that I can suspend belief, if that’s necessary, to be able to accept that this story is possible.
- I also like a mood to be set. It can be eerie, tense, blissful, but I want it set up and continued.
- Oh, and action up front.
Apparently, I have a lot more criteria than I realized. LOL It’s good to know. Ultimately, it comes down to good storytelling.
So, what hooks you? What do you look for in a story?
Authors participating in this month’s Round Robin: