Friday, December 5, 2008

Meet Lesa

A Reader’s Viewpoint

I am a librarian and a book reviewer, but, most of all, a reader. Since I wear all of those hats, I have a world of options open to me when I’m looking for something to read. Do you want to know how to capture my attention?

Give me a good character. Introduce me to a character that is lively and interesting, someone who I’ll want to follow for two or three hundred pages. I don’t care if the book is a mystery or romance, historical fiction or women’s fiction. If I don’t like the lead character, I won’t read the book. I’ve been known to stop reading after 100 pages if I realize I don’t care what happens to any of the characters. And, if I’m reviewing the book, it won’t receive a good review without a strong central character.

And, capture my attention in the first thirty pages. Those of us who are avid readers often share a fifty page test. If you don’t hook me in the first fifty pages, I won’t read any further. And, I’m going to let you in on a publishing secret. I screen mystery manuscripts for a well-known independent publisher. I receive a synopsis and the first thirty pages. If those thirty pages do not present me with a quality story with an exciting opening and an interesting character, my instructions are to reject the manuscript. So, you have thirty pages to entice me, and no more than fifty pages for many readers.

This is just one reader’s slant on what to do to catch my attention. I share my opinions regularly on my blog, if you’d like to see other comments from a reader.

Good luck with your writing. Just give us good characters, please, and hook us early.

Lesa is more than just a reader. Her website is one of my favorite blogs and I visit it a couple of times a week. She is a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal. Her Book Critiques is syndicated through Bloghurst, and her reviewers have been picked up by Reuters, USA Today, and other news distributors. Thanks for stopping by Lesa!


Lesa said...

Thanks for inviting me Patricia! And, I'll stop back during the day in case people leave comments. It was my pleasure!

Patricia said...

Hi Lesa,

I've thought about your "30 page" rule off and on all day (in fact I used it in the classroom today!). Great reminder. As you know I love a good read, and I've found several on your blog. Can you mention two or three recent mystery novels that have done a really good job with the opening and presenting you with a character or two that you hooked you? Thanks.

Lesa said...

Hi Patricia!

Yes, definitely. The first one that comes to mind is Steven F. Havill's latest book, The Fourth Time is Murder. I had never read one of his books before this one, the fifteenth in a series. The opening scene grabbed me, and I liked the characters so much that I've gone back to read the earlier ones in the series. Margaret Coel's latest book was not part of her series, so it introduced a new character. And, it started with such a riveting scene that I was caught, even though I usually don't like books when women are stalked. But Coel's investigative reporter is a terrific character. And, if anyone wants to read terrific characters, tell them to try Chris Grabenstein's Ceepak mysteries. He just gets better and better, and his latest, Hell Hole, is great. Hope that helps!

Patricia said...

These books are on my to-be-read list and I'll be checking my local library. I'm looking forward to reading them. Thanks! Again!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Patricia. Thanks for asking me!