Thursday, February 23, 2017

How to Judge a Book by Christine Johnson

This time of year many writers and readers judge entries in writing contests. This can be manuscript pages or published novels. When I have time, I enjoy judging. For those yet to be published manuscripts, it's an opportunity to encourage and pass along information gleaned during my many years learning the craft. When judging published novels, I am often reminded of something to improve my own writing.

Most important to me is that first impression.

It's rather like the first meeting of the hero and heroine. The relationship can get off to a solid or shaky start all because of first impressions.


So too with books. Whether yet-to-be-published or already published, that first impression is vital. Over the years I've read several books for contests that I would not have finished if I hadn't had to judge them. Overall, the story had depth and proved engaging, but that first impression? Not so good. Since my time is valuable, I don't hang in for long waiting for the story to pick up. We have to assume our readers feel the same way. And that's made me think long and hard about my beginnings. They might need a little polishing up.

So... What draws you to a book? What makes you set one down? How long do you persevere before giving up on a story? This writer wants to know!

Mail Order Sweetheart

Christine Johnson
Mail Order Sweetheart (LIH, June 2017)
Freedom's Price (Revell, June 2017)


Mary Alford said...

Christine, the first thing to catch my eye is the cover. If the cover is eye catching, it'll make me want to read more. The back cover blurb is pretty important as well. It tells me what the story will be like. From there, I can usually tell from the first few pages if I will enjoy the book. I love the stories that make me want to read the book again after I've finished it.

Christine Johnson said...

Mary, your method of evaluation sounds a lot like mine! Like you, I love those stories that make me want to begin all over again or those that I wish would go on and on.

Merrillee said...

The book blurb is what usually attracts me. If the story sounds interesting, I will buy. Depending on how long the book is I give it 50-100 pages before giving up. The big thing for me is caring about what happens to the characters. If the author doesn't make me want to know what happens to them in the first 50 pages, I'm not likely to finish the book.

Pamela Tracy said...

loved the post...
I am first caught by the cover, then I read the first four lines. If they sell me, I read the blurb on the back. Usually if I make that it that
far, it's a sale.

Christine Johnson said...

Wow, Pamela, you can tell in 4 lines? Writers, this is confirmation to polish those openings!