Saturday, March 21, 2020

What draws me into a story?

I read a lot so know the first chapters are very important. While certain character types can draw me in, it is usually the beginning situation the character is in that makes me continue reading. So I must be a what-happens-next type reader. I am willing to read many genres when this format is present.

That was pretty short wasn't it?

The only novel I remember reading and enjoying without this was James Michener's Hawaii, as it starts with the ancient formation of the islands. Yet, I like science and archaeology and have used world-building in my writing. Also, from the title, one might suggest Hawaii was the story's main character. I've probably read other stories with this format but they didn't leave a long-lasting impression.

The page drawing me in
These are things I don't like, and their presence often stops me from reading any further.
  1. Stories told in first-person and present-tense often aggravate me. I have read first-person stories and enjoyed them, so it must be the combination of first-person with the present tense.
  2. A series of prologues and quotes leading up to the first chapter or dividing the story into parts loses my interest. This tends to happen in fantasy, a genre I usually enjoy.
  3. Another aggravation is a beginning with an overly poetic style in the opening chapter, especially when loaded with sentence fragments, metaphors, and similes often found in literary fiction. I wonder if the whole story will continue with this figure-this-out blah-blah-blah wording. It turns me off. Especially when these are from a character's perspective. As the reader, am I supposed to get better acquainted with that character's mentality through this process? It doesn't happen. I'm too busy trying to decipher the wording's intent.
I must admit, though, that in short, creative, non-fiction I don't mind any of these so much. Please visit the blogs listed below for other opinions on this topic.

Victoria Chatham 
Skye Taylor
Helena Fairfax 
Judith Copek
Diane Bator 
Dr. Bob Rich
Fiona McGier 
Connie Vines 


  1. Hi Rhobin, I dislike prologues, too. I have to then admit that sometimes they were the right thing for that story/novel. they do put me off. I like an inciting incident and I often open my stories in dialogue.

    1. I don't mind a prologue, and I have used them, but they had a purpose. I've read some novels with multiple prologues, one before the first chapter, then another before the next chapter.

  2. I don't mind prologues so long as they present one with a compelling question. Present tense is hard to stick with I agree but I like first person done we'll because it puts me into that characters head

    1. I like first person but not combined with present tense.

  3. I'm not a fan of first person POV. I think it's too limiting. You can't learn what happens in the room if the POV person isn't in it. I prefer third person omniscient. I want to know what ALL of the main characters in a story are thinking and feeling. Especially in romantic encounters! YUM!

  4. I prefer 3rd person omniscient, too, although I've written one story in first person.

  5. Another good topic, Rhobin. It seems that we have similar takes on what draws a reader in, and in our reading choices. I found the points on first person interesting as I started writing a women's fiction, a first me, and it automatically started in first person. I'm not sure where I'll go with this but I will work my way through it.

    1. I do read first person, it's just that when combined with present tense it just gets too right-now so any contemplation seems out of place. Plus most authors often slip into past tense. These techniques just stop and start the story for me.

  6. I think MIchener's books often begin with what happened in prior Millennia. Just his way. Hawaii was very intriguing though.
    It was refreshing to read someone's pet peeves. I'm not crazy about first person present tense either. I agree all of the peeves may be annoying. These days prologues are supposed to be called "Chapter 1." I've tried to stay away from tem where possible. As for the "too literary" stance, that's only good is the entire book is lke that. I write commercial fiction so try to stay away from those things. God post!

  7. I do too, but then, after having stated that, I had to start my next story with a preface because it is the fourth volume in a series and new readers will need background information from the previous stories about the main character.