When You Didn’t Have Me at Hello

…And Other Book Pet Peeves

As an author, I’ve found it difficult to be too judgmental when I’m reading a book. Because I know just how much time and effort have gone into the story. How hard it probably was for the author to release their “baby” into the world for critical reviews and comments.

So when I realized the #MFRW 52-week Blog Challenge this week was for “My biggest pet peeve in a book” I had to pause.

But that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t one thing I could identify that makes me put the book down, or forget to pick it up again.

Book Pet Peeves

I’ve talked about things that irritate me in a story before (like right here). Some other book peeves include having too much description, too perfect characters and the dumping of backstory. But I can skim those parts and keep reading if I’m caught up in the story. Therefore, the challenge is getting me ensnared in the story in the first place.

First Impressions Count

author, reading, ScruffAlthough I enjoy a nice cover and love a good blurb, when I’m picking a book to read I could care less about any of that, or even the title. I open the book up and read the first paragraph, or the first page. If I don’t like the writing style, or how the story begins, my limited attention prevents me from continuing reading. The only exceptions I’ve made are when it’s a favorite author of mine, or if I’ve picked up a book from a recommendation.

Facing the Music

This presents an ugly truth to me as an author about the importance of those first pages. I spend more time slaving over those pages, and that first line than anything. I know if a reader gets bored, they aren’t going to take the time to get to the good part. Authors must strive to make the whole book ‘the good part.’

The ability to capture my—or any reader’s—attention in an impatient world thriving on immediate gratification and an overload of stimuli is both magnificent and magical.

What Keeps You Turning the Pages?

Follow the #MFRW 52-Week Blog Hop and find out what the other authors identify as their biggest pet peeve in a book.

Author Bio: Maureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line. For more laughter, fun and sarcasm follow Maureen on FacebookTwitter

15 thoughts on “When You Didn’t Have Me at Hello”

  1. peggy jaegerpeggy jaeger

    Maureen – perfect blog!!! I do the same thing- if I don’t like the first page, there really is no hope I want to go any further. It’s time invested I’ll never get back and since I’m old – every second counts! LOL. YOur first lines have all been wonderful and reader-capture worthy, so you are doing a fab job!!!

  2. Sherry LewisSherry Lewis

    Agreed! When I was much, much younger, I read every book I started all the way to the end, no matter how boring it was, how much I disliked the characters, or how I felt about it. I don’t do that anymore, and haven’t for many years. There are too many books out there vying for my attention and there aren’t hours enough in one lifetime to get to them all. Now, a writer has a limited number of pages to grab me or I move on.

  3. Meka JamesMeka James

    That first look option on Amazon is wonderful for that. I never thought much about the ‘hook’ if you will to grab the reader’s attention at that first page, but it is something to really focus on. That first paragraph or page can be make it or break it.

  4. Diane GarnerDiane Garner

    You’re so right that first impressions count. Twice recently I’ve run into a first impression that really turns me off. The book starts with the heroine meeting a complete stranger in a bar and going to his place for all-night sex. Seriously? I can’t imagine how I’m supposed to like, relate to, or root for this heroine when she’s introduced as stupid and a slut. I’m not biased either because I think it’s just as wrong for the hero to be stupid and slutty. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not a prude. I like lots of sex in books, just not with complete strangers at his place, for God’s sake. These beginnings seem more designed for a serial killer story where the woman ends up dead after making such stupid choices. And seriously, is this the type of behavior we want to encourage in women, encourage in our daughters? I think not. Stepping down off my soapbox now…

  5. Linda McLaughlinLinda McLaughlin

    Excellent point, Maureen. Hooking the reader is crucial to writing success.

  6. Ed HoornaertEd Hoornaert

    A useful resource for improving one’s hooks is by Les Edgerton.

    • Ed HoornaertEd Hoornaert

      Duh! I guess I should divulge the book’s name. It’s called “Hooked”.

  7. Robin MichaelaRobin Michaela

    I agree about first impressions and worry about mine when I write. I think I’ll grab Ed’s book suggestion!

  8. Kenzie MichaelsKenzie Michaels

    Yikes! I have three books that begin like that, only because I was trying to write like an Ellora’s Cave author back in 2007. Hope neither of them are the ones you’re referring to, lol! I was told the characters had to be in bed by page 2 or 3.

    It always puzzled me about those early EC books I read, because complete strangers would meet, have pages and pages of sex, and end with a proposal or a hint of an ‘ever after’. I always wanted to know what happened the next day….when Real Life happened.

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