A fun or intriguing book hook-It can be anything as long as it catches my interest. When I find a page turner, I’m in heaven. (Lisa Lutz or Nancy Atherton)
Setting-Beach anywhere or cozy town usually in New England, Mid-Atlantic, South or in anywhere in England.
Compelling characters- Those characters with moral issues, who think about themselves in the context of their world and situations, I find interesting. They try to figure out what is going on around them and who they encounter. When there are two characters trying to figure it out together, it’s even better.
Concise language-Think Robert Parker’s dialog, Robert Crais’s observations or Ann B. Ross’s conclusions. Yes, I like various subgenres within mystery.
Well plotted and realistic-Plots must flow with logic and be well researched. Even paranormal or supernatural plots must be grounded in reality for the plot to work. If the bad guy’s identified in a crystal ball where’s the mystery and sleuthing?
Fool me or charm me-Too often I figure out plots on page five. But if the story charms me, I may not care.
The Cover-I’ll admit it. I can be suckered into buying a book if the cover is awesome. Most of the time, the artist knows the book’s plot when they create a cover. Not always, but I hope that if the cover artist is good, the author will be too.
Unappealing topic-For me, spy and government agency books hold no favor (perhaps because I’ve worked with government agencies). When a character flies off somewhere, I’m wondering how they substantiated the expense, how many forms they filled out and wonder why the character isn’t eating fast food because on government per diem, that’s all they’ll be able to afford. Also—reality TV shows—don’t watch them, don’t read them.
Setting-Desert anywhere holds no interest for me—I’m a fish out of water—or a foreign country such as the Middle East, Africa or South America—sorry, aside from The Kite Runner, those areas hold little appeal.
Trendy Characters-Ones, who talk like they are texting, use the latest slang and are very sure of themselves. I wouldn’t want them for friends so why would I spend hours reading about them.
Flowery Language-Using too many adjectives to describe something in too much detail, which I skim. I also hate when an author uses so many Collegiate Dictionary words that I must look up, taking me out of the story.
Magical thinking-I read a book that demonstrated the author’s laziness. Instead of showing the reader how the main character came by her listening devices, she told us that the main character broke into an apartment and stole them. Oh, how convenient. Had she shown this scene, I’m sure she would have had massive revisions. I’m also not happy when real historical characters are used and the author changes their well-documented life. Sorry, I have a problem with changing reality.
I hope in revising my book, I don’t end up with a book that falls into my “Con” list. What compels you to buy a book?