So there's this book. It's YA, and you've probably heard of it, even if you haven't read it yet. Here are a few of the stats:
1) The cover? Gorgeous. It's why I had to learn more about the story.
2) The description? Fun, spooky history + love story + first in trilogy + mystery = trip to my local Borders to pick it up, pronto.
3) The story itself? ... And here's where things get a little ugly.
-- At about 40 pages in, I set the book down for a couple of weeks, because it wasn't that interesting yet. But no way was I giving up on such a big, fat, beautiful book that easily.
-- At 92 pages, I set it down again, because, well ... still not that interesting. Where was the story? What was the point to all the "I did this today and this the next day" Bella antics? Surely it was building up to something, but what? And when? How much longer would I have to wait? The 40-or-so other books in my TBR pile(s) were calling to me--and the call was strong--but dammit, I was seeing this one through.
-- At 122 pages, I stopped again, and decided to read some reviews. Some people loved it, but many reviewers said the same thing I was worried about: There was no story, at least not until the last 20 pages or so. Of a 400+ page book.
-- I decided to give it one more shot. And then, at 142 pages, I closed the book, marveled over its dark, spooky cover one more time, and did something that broke my heart: I threw in the towel.
This reading experience really gave me a new perspective when I opened up my own WIP. It made me think, "Am I into the meat of the story yet, or am I diddly daddly'ing around because I love my characters and their world too much to let them go?" This is something I'll address more in the editing phase, but it's also helped me to pick up my first-draft-writing pace as well.
AND SO I SAY TO YOU ALL, DEAR WRITERS:
(Most) readers are not impatient people. We love books. We love falling into world after world after world. And we will stick with you through 700+ pages if that's how long it takes to tell your story. (If you don't believe me, just ask Steph Meyer.) But, you must give us a reason first. Mundane, day-to-day activities, at least in my humblest opinion, does not a reason make ... even if you throw us a bone and introduce us to The Love Interest. It is not necessary that you plunge us headfirst into scenes with blood, guts, and drama (in fact, that can be a little overwhelming when we have no concept of who these people are yet), but you must give us something to hang on to, something to make us care. And don't wait until Book 2 of the series to bring it. We don't have Book 2 in our hands yet. And, if we can't connect with Book 1, we probably never will.
With muchest love,