Thursday, December 1, 2011

What Makes a Book Interesting; That is the Question

What makes a book interesting; that is the question. Obviously, the opening line is what makes you hooked onto a story. Such as, “In a matter of seconds, all goes black as the world around me is torn apart.” Okay, even if the summary sucked for a story like that, that opener would definitely make you want to read some more. What is happening? Is the main character dead? I want to find out! That’s what you should feel when you read such a suspenseful first sentence. You can tell the book is going to be full of action and have a terrific climax.
How about this, “on Valentine’s Day, I was going to surprise my boyfriend with some chocolates I placed into his locker. Well, until I opened his locker and found a condom wrapper and we haven’t even done that yet.” What does that make you feel? Like this book is going to be hilariously funny with romance and revenge all around? Do you want to know if she breaks up with her boyfriend or not? What if she was cheating on him in the first place and he was doing it to have revenge on her? Drama!!! Makes you want to read more and more. It’s like a soap opera without the colorful pictures.
Also, the summary. Most authors put a ton of time and sweat into their book summaries because that’s generally what people first look at (besides the covers which I’ll get to in a moment). The summaries must list the most important details of the book inside without revealing too much of what’s going to happen. This summary usually includes what happens in the beginning, like if a character has a special power, is a vampire, something major just happened in their lives, etc. But when an author puts so much time making the summary look so exciting that you can’t wait to dive into it, the book tells you what’s going to happen. Hidden romance is revealed like if a person says they have “an undeniable connection”, or “I can’t resist him” obviously they’re going to get together. In the less subtle approach, they’ll just state “My name is Emily Johnson and I’m a vampire”. Yeah, it doesn’t get much simpler than that. Sadly, that takes a bit of the spark away from the book. Now, you could add some fire to that sentence to make the boringness of it all turn into something totally amazing. “My name is Emily Johnson and the love of my life made me the monster I am, a vampire, and I am going to totally kick his ***.” Oh yeah, a kick *** heroine. Sounds awesome, right? Now I really want to know what happens.
What if a book didn’t come with a summary? You would just dive into a book with no idea what it’s about and what’s going to happen. Has anyone ever bought a book when they never read the summary and just started to read it? Yeah, it doesn’t happen that much. I like knowing a little bit about my character and the storyline before reading a book. As long as the summary doesn’t get in too much detail and explains basically the ending, I’m happy with the summary. Take my sentence from earlier. I’ll make up a summary for it with a right one and a wrong one. Which sounds better?
Wrong: My name is Emily Johnson and I’m a vampire. In the 1920’s, the Great Depression was hit and my family was out of money. Getting too desperate, I begged my childhood friend for a way to get out of town and he bit my neck. Now, I’m trying to find him to change me back except I can’t help but have feelings for him. Will it be too late or will the vampire hunters find me?
Okay, here’s what wrong with that summary. First off, boring first sentence. Okay, you’re a vampire. What we really want to know is: do you sparkle? The Great Depression was good, but it doesn’t say what time period it is now currently in the book. Your family’s out of money, a little more detail please! Are you dirt poor or you just can’t afford the pony you wanted for Christmas? Asking to get out of town, understandable, but why? Is it because of the money problems, your family, or do you feel trapped in your little town? He bit my neck, so freaking descriptive! When it talks about still having feelings for him, of course she meets up with him and they obviously get back together. Obvious ending! And, whoa! Where the hell did those vampire hunters come from? Way too cliché and there was no mention of where those hunters came from.
Good: My name is Emily Johnson and the love of my life made me the monster I am, a vampire, and I’m totally going to kick his ***. My family, like every other middle class family, put all their money in the bank and when the Great Depression hit, I freaking lost all my money. Trying to feed my family and getting a job, what’s a sixteen year old going to do except want to get out of her debt ridden town? My childhood friend, Alexei (who I’ve been in love with for years) told me of the wonders of the cities out North where he worked and I asked him to take me there. Sadly, he thought I wanted to be with him eternally (not such a bad idea until I saw his fangs) and he bit me on the neck, injecting me with his venom. Thinking I didn’t survive my transformation, he left me on the ground dying, but obviously I’m still alive. Now in 2011, I’m going to find him and make him change me back. There had better be a cure for this sickness before I totally turn towards the bloodlust. I won’t lose myself like he did, and I’m not going down without one last fight.
So descriptive! Not too much detail (maybe in the past talk) and there are some actual teenage thoughts in there. No monotone, no adult trying to talk and think like a teen. It gives the age, the time period, why she wanted to leave her town, how rich she was, what her friend’s name is, no mention of any future romance, no sudden appearance of vampire hunters. Everyone knows about vampires going for bloodlust, it’s obvious that it happens to basically every vampire (even Edward Cullen). It explains why she thinks she’s a monster and how she wants a cure. What is the cure? Is there such a thing? How is she going to get it? I want to read more; too bad I was the one who made it up!
Now, covers will be later on this week, but one thing to say before I go. You know the phrase, “don’t judge a book by its cover?” Yeah, that applies to most people. However, in the book world, book covers basically mean everything. If a book didn’t have a cover, books would look really disinteresting. Covers show what the book is about, the essence of the books. More on this later including the pros and cons of beautiful covers, what sparks your interest in a book cover, how to make the cover not look ugly and stupid, how to choose a cover. Also, I’ll talk about the climaxes of stories and how to make them awesome and not suckish. Tah, tah!
P.S- Including December 1st 2011, there are 25 more days until Christmas! Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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