How do you know when you are reading a good book at the beginning of the story?
The book doesn't begin with three or four really long paragraphs of description of countryside. You get straight into the characters usually by having the main character in an action scene.
Easily. How is it written? Is the story descriptive? Does dialog control the story? Can you picture the story just by reading the first page? If not, drop it and move on. If you cannot picture the story, it is just going to sit on the shelf. The best stories are those you can imagine like a movie and have astounding characters.
My favorite authors ever were found in Borders. After reading the first page, I was interested, more than interested, I couldn't put it down. Book in hand, I raced down the steps trying not to trip over my own feet. My mother wouldn't wait long if I wasn't in my regular spot at the corner outside the double doors. It was one of the most impatient moments of my life. Now I'm a devoted fan of Jeaniene Frost, and adore her characters because they are my pocket friends. Sherrilyn Kenyon, Susan Johnson, Patricia Briggs, etc. They all were found that way.
For me, a good book at the beginning is one that challenges me to read further to learn more about the characters, the situation, how to do something better. The writing is not predictable, the character believable, interesting, the plot moves from page to page building on the page, the story. For non fiction information it must offer new facts, instructions I find help me learn how to do something better. It it doesn't do this in the beginning, the book isn't worth my time reading.
Very simple...I keep turning the pages or I find myself carrying the book with me just in case I have a spare moment.
I consider it a bonus if the book is written in vignettes or has very short chapters like Dan Brown where I feel like I am accomplishing a lot in a short amount of time.
I like a book that starts out with a scene between characters that draws my attention. I am left with a question, who are these people, how did they get here? It makes me want to move on and know the rest of the story.
One of the most brilliant first page draw (in my opinion) was Rice's Interview with vampire. That first page made me not want to put the book down...I was hooked two paragraphs in. That is what I like to see in a new book.
I can usually tell if a story is going to be good, if it sucks me into it from the start. When the characters seem full of life and believable. It has to hold my interest, I suppose. Usually an engaging conversation, or drama the main character seems involved in from the start.
A book that hooks me in the beginning paragraphs usually does so with action or intriguing dialogue. If it doesn't "grab" me on that first page, it is unlikely to do so further along in the chapter. Most, if not all, of the riveting books I've read (and I've read thousands that fit that description) pull me into an interesting situation peopled with interesting characters very soon after I read the title. A book that starts strong usually keeps its promise to entertain to the end. That's why I love to read!
If a book doesn't pull you in and you can't suspend your disbelief long enough to keep reading it's probably not a good book. Go by how it makes you feel when you read it.
Yes, everyone has hit the nail on the head. It needs to grab you in the first paragraph and pull you through each page. If I am not pulled in quickly I put the book down. If a mystery, usually someone is killed at the start of the book, if a scifi, you enter at the battle between worlds. There you have it.
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