Saturday, April 18, 2015

What Hooks a Reader on a Story?

If there were a definitive way to hook every reader into buying a book, I’m sure it would have been discovered before now. Purchasing a book can be a big surprise, sometimes way beyond excellent, sometimes very awful (see this blog post). That’s because all readers are individuals who share some similarities, but most often have distinctive ‘wants’ in reading entertainment.

When I choose a print book, I always read the first few pages. Electronic books don’t usually allow this selling tactic, but excerpts can often be found online, just not always the first few pages. Those pages often determine if I’ll spend the time reading the book. Let’s face it, the cliché is true: time is precious, and I don't want to waste three or more hours on an unsatisfactory story. This lack of prevue might be what is driving potential readers to other entertainment venues. So what draws me into a story?

I like when 1) I receive either obvious or subliminal hints about the lead-in character (in the first chapter not the prologue) and his or her predicament is one that I can identify with in some manner, or 2) the situation is fascinating. It’s that simple. If the character shares an emotional response to an interesting situation, past or pending, I’ll continue reading. Does it guarantee I’ll finish? No, it’s only the start, but if the story continues with the introduction’s promise of suspense, emotional or physical turmoil faced in a realistic manner, or dealing with some life-changing decision, I’m in, no matter what the genre. I do enjoy stories of contemporary, historical, or future eras, and I’m willing to engage in believable fantasy (there are many that are not believable). I do like to receive some type of insight into the human condition before the end, no matter what. That’s also how I attempt to engage readers in my own novels.

Follow the links to discover other author's viewpoints on how story openings hook them:

Beverley Bateman
Diane Bator
Ginger Simpson
Skye Taylor
Marci Baun
Margaret Fieland 
Helena Fairfax
Anne Stenhouse
Fiona McGier
Connie Vines
Rachael Kosnski 
Victoria Chatham
Lynn Crain

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

All Things Ten!

Ten As a Symbol
Cardinal: TEN
Hindu-Arabic: 10
Ordinate: Tenth
Roman: X

Pythagorean number: the decade
1+9, 2+8, 3+7, 4+6, 5+5; 2x5

Roman Words of Ten: decem, decimus decimeter: December (Roman 10th month) decimal. deni: ten each

The Greeks used the word deka for ten, which appears in our words like decameter, decathlon, decade, decapod (lobster). Mmmm. Love those decapods.

Ten Associations:
  • ten fingers
  • ten toes
  • Tenth month: October
  • 10:00
  • December is the tenth month in the Roman calendar
  • decade
Science, Technology References:
  • Neon's, Ne, periodic number is ten
  • Metric system
  • Combination of 1 and 0 creates the binary system
  • Powers of ten
  • Monetary: Sawbuck, ten dollar bill, dime
  • The FBI has the Ten Most Wanted list.
  • The Ten Commandments is a guideline for good Christians as expressed in the 10th Commandment: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, nor thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbours'. 
  • There were also the ten plagues brought on the Egyptians in Exodus
  • Ten classes of angels
  • Ten names of God: Ehyeh, Yh, Jehovah, El the Mighty One, Eloah, Elohim, Sabaoth, Elohim Sabaoth, El Hayy, The Mighty Living One, Adonay the Lord.
  • Judaism has the Ten Sephiroth (emanations) of the Qabalah (Kabbalah).
  • They also have the ten lost tribes, exiled from Israel by conquerors.
In games, and sports bowling has ten pins, and dice has the big ten.

  • Tarot: The tenth sign in astrology is the House of Capricorn, ruled by the planet Saturn, and symbolized by the goat. It is indicative of a driven, hard-working, and committed person born under this auspicious sign.
  • Astrology: Capricorn is the Tenth House and is ruled by the planet Saturn. It deals with a person's place in the world and their legacy.

Literary, folklore, art:

In prophecy, ten represents the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. One combined with 0 indicates a complete cycle through the basic integers. One and zero are also the basis of binary code which operates computers in which technology changed our world. This is a basic yes - no operation showing a basic polarity (existing - nonexistent) between the digits. This relates to prophesy, when one, the first number which represents God, has a zero, representing infinity, added, the result is a statement that 'there is only one God without end who knows no bounds.' It is therefore considered a particularly fortunate number and holds the promise of victory in difficult situations. Ten is also seen as a 'holy' number, and it is surrounded in mystic beliefs stemming from antiquity. The Godhead 'Io' was believed to be both masculine and feminine. The 'I' represented the male phallus and the 'O' the female womb through which all creation was projected.

Ten is the greatest of all numbers because it is the Tetraktys and comprehends all harmonic and arithmetic proportions. Pythagoras viewed ten as the nature of numbers.

Ten also has some 'key' words of prophecy tied to it: age, power, faith, necessity, memory, and tirelessness. The number is also associated with Urania, Zuse and Mnemosyne's daughter. She was considered the muse of the stars and heaven, therefore of astrology; Phanes, the One God and Atlas.

Like all numbers, there are negative connotations.

In Tarot, the tenth card is the Wheel of Fortune which shows the perpetual motion of time and can be translated into creative evolution within the laws of chance or just the ups and downs of life.

In common language usage and slang we have the gallon hat, ten bucks, the top ten, hang ten in surfing, take ten,· ten percenter, and the· perfect ten.