M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hooking a Reader's Interest

The Read:  My opinion: the second book's the key to hooking the reader's interest in a series -- the charm that launches a series ... or a reader turn-off.  

Started Caitlin Kittredge's Pure Blood. second in the Nocturne City series (trilogy?).  The opening starts off much the same as the first -- with a dead body.  Problem?  Well, in the first book, the body immediately hooked you into the possibilities of something nefariously supernatural happening.  The second book?  The body looks like a routine overdose while the MC and reader stand around getting cold feet -- even though the medical examiner does mention the eyes aren't consistent with the OD assumption -- The book then drifts away to departmental politics before the hook is set. 

A slo-o-o-w start with one-note characters.  Got a tenth of the way into the book before I reached the first spark of interest -- the MC gets saddled with an unwanted partner who just happened to be from a prominent good witch family, but without a hint of magic and looks like a Barbie-clone.  I was ready to throw the book on the trade pile, but by page 40 the storyline snagged me enough to continue reading.  Why?  I thought it'd furnish a good exercise for the blog. -- Duty above all.  [Please don't gag.]

The simplicity of the characterization bothers me -- [actually, my thoughts are more profane].  Don't want or need huge amounts of back story at the beginning of the second book, but your secondary characters need to come across as humans, not cardboard space holders.  [That's the tertiary characters' role.]  

Examples:  Partner - the poor little rich girl.  The New Love Interest - a self-centered adolescent that feels like he's being set up to be dumped.  The New Boss --  an intolerant autocrat.  Main Character -- caught up in her anger to the point of unreason and self-destruction.  (Might work for literary, but commercial?)

So, why do I continue reading? The MC and partner got stuck in a S&M bondage situation while investigating the death of a blood witch about a 1/3 of the way into the book.  (Blood witches in this world are bad guys.)  Finally, I got hooked even though I was yawning enough to go to bed. 

Web Notes:  I sometimes wonder if my blog is wasted effort -- even though I'm comfortable talking to myself.  Then, something strange happens.  I checked the statistics for my blog and clicked the who's reading my blog button ... and there was somebody reading at the same time as me.  Well, I thought it was interesting even if you don't.

When I first started writing a blog, I really didn't think about readers.  I worried about thinking up enough words to say.  --  I should have had more confidence in my "big mouth".

All the above raises the question:  So, you got your blog.  What are you going to do with it?

Justine Musk recently wrote a blog on how to organize your social media platform in three parts.  http://tribalwriter.com/2010/04/06/author-platform-framework/    I assume the end result would help increase readership for a published writer.

That means my blog is probably useless.  *shrug*  Not really, I've learned a lot from it.  As for following Musk's suggestions, I need to sell something so I know what audience/readership I'm talking to.  --  Another bit of information to tuck between my ears.

Progress:  Maren is metamorphosing.  Maybe I should give up and write something else.  [I have several possible ideas sitting in my idea file.]  Have consigned the opening chapter to the odd bit file.  *sniff*  All that lovely back story gone ... and maybe one character.  Now I've got to figure what the characters are going to do since my tentative outline is in the trash.

Trivia:   Snow dusted us last night.  No shoveling for the old man since the sidewalks are clear, but we're still on Apricot Watch.  Usually, we get a massive freeze as soon as the apricot blooms, and we get nothing by leaves from the tree.  This year, we just might get a few apricots --  not that I really like them that much.  I prefer peaches -- which tree is showing no signs of blossoming yet.  (Yeah.)


Kirsten Lesko said...

"The MC and partner got stuck in a S&M bondage situation while investigating the death of a blood witch about a 1/3 of the way into the book." This made me LMAO. Definitely work sticking around for!

And I know how you feel about the blog. With or without followers it can feel like a wasted effort. I often wish I could just pour all that time into writing. Alas, it does not seem to be the reality for today's debut authors.

Unknown said...

Yeah, here I am playing with the blog when I should be writing. I'm never going to get Maren out of the blocks.

Linda L. Henk said...

Gosh, and Linda makes three. I'm wondering why blog but oh, well. I've now heard that knowledge of social media is something to put on a resume because employers want to know a potential hire is savvy...or maybe potential employers want to check up on employees. No matter, I'm not sure any of us can ignore social media's importance even if we're not actively sending out resumes to employers. We are self-employed after all is said and done.

FantasticFiction said...

I worked VERY hard to get my beginning the right way... But I reached my results so there. I am semi-happy. Now I am working on the end :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

The blogging thing is one way you can convince an agent and editor that you have a web presence and know how to market your book online. Building an audience takes time.

One thing that will help is to find other blogs you like and plunk them into a blogroll in your sidebar. I try to add one or two new blogs to my lists each week, and I try to find at least two new blogs each week that I enjoy enough to leave comments on.