Saturday, February 4, 2012

Fish, Mice and Readers

What do fish, mice and readers have in common?


For the first two, responding to bait isn't a good thing. For a reader, it can be a rewarding experience.
What do I refer to?
The first sentence or first couple of sentences in a review.

Why is that such a big deal?

That is where a reviewer has a chance to set the 'bait'.

Why would anyone want to entice a reader?

The purpose is to pique a reader's interest. ((Notice it's piqued and not peaked? That's a soap box for a different day ))

Ideally, bait gets a reader to read the rest of the review, to get interested in checking out the book further and in a perfect world, buy the book.

It's also called the 'Hook'. Yes, I've covered this topic in the past.  If you've not had the pleasure, sink your teeth into these past gems.


I'm pretty sure I covered it in depth but refreshers and reminders never go amiss.

The following are the first few sentences of a review which in my estimation are exactly the punch I'm talking about.

My fingers are still tingling from the erotic heat coming off this book. I was completely hooked after only a few pages and refused to stop reading until I had finished. This book had me captivated by its well written plot and titillating eroticism.

In a hurry, but need a quick jolt of sensual excitement and seduction? Hop right into this very steamy tale because each command, every quivering sigh delivering a breathy ‘yes’, will jump start a reader’s pulse into overdrive. Once again Ms. Alex zeroes in on what a woman likes to read that seduces her mind and her senses.

Proceed with caution when using Powertools, you just never know how hot they are going to get. Jayne Rylon’s fourth book in her Powertools series, Devon’s Pair, is smokin’ hot and exceptionally dirty!

Life is never easy, especially when you are the nerdy heavy girl in love with the town hunk. Maxine’s love for Noah has nothing to do with his looks and more to do with the man he is when only she is around

Garrett thought everything at home was just fine. He’d never been more wrong about anything in his life.

Love is a light that keeps the darkness of evil at bay. However, memories of fear in a dark closet and echoes of the words—God does not listen to bad girl’s prayers—rules Adriane Darcy’s response to many things that happen.

The preceding are examples that provide tantalizing information with words that make an impact in the first thirty seconds. Sometimes, that's all a reviewer has if they want to get their review read. Some readers will read it anyway because of the author or subject matter. But for readers who pop in just to check out reviews and to learn about new things they might want to try, those first few sentences that lead into that first paragraph are crucial.

Here's a comparison of the same book: Touch If You Dare by Stephanie Rowe
Reina is on a mission to save the life of her sister. She has failed to save her mother and seven other sisters, so she is determined to do whatever it takes. Unfortunately, saving Natalie’s life will involve killing and reaping souls. Reina works for Death, and he has offered her a promotion (with extra powers and tools) if she will kill the world’s most talented assassin.

She’s working hard on trying to be a reaper for death. He’s trying to stay alive and not explode from the hate and anger he carries around in him. Ideal couple, don’t you think?

The above two examples show the difference between a recitation versus an infusion of the reviewer's personal touch. The second offers a question which suggests a tone of cheek and sarcasm. When I read it the first time, the first thing I thought was "Oooh, a conflict of the sexes and that means trouble!" -- My reaction to the first example, was, "Okay - thanks for the info."

The next two comparisons I'm adding as a lark. Although the first line is a bit more grabbing, what follows is a bit of a downer. The second review's first line doesn't have any fire but the tone of the following review is much more optimistic and easier on the mind's stress level.

His Destiny by Diana Cosby
Secret keeping between the hero and heroine is always a problem when it comes to romance

Traumatic experiences in childhood govern the psyche of both Emma Astyn and Sir Patrik Cleary MacGruder.

The last comparison between two reviews is focused on the very first line. Granted, the site I'm linking to has a different format, so I'm not too sure what a search engine would pull up as a "first line". In this case, I scrolled down to where the actual meat of the review started.

The book in question is: Sex, Lies and Midnight by Tawny Weber

Sex, Lies, and Midnight is the second installment to Tawny Weber's Undercover Operatives series.

I’ve been hoodwinked in the most delightful manner.

Which of the last two has more originality in it? It's the clearest, shortest example of my point.

The first sentence isn't supposed to be facts that a reader can get off of the blurb or the publisher's site. Certainly it's not supposed to be a statement of where the book lands in a series. B.O.R.I.N.G. !!

It's supposed to be the reviewer's own words, expressing something that condenses a thought or feeling about the book.
Proceed with caution

There are as many ways to grab attention as there are books to read. There is no official right way, but there are plenty of wrong ways. Putting a reader to sleep is a wrong way. Reiterating the outline of the story is too Dragnet - just the facts Ma'am.

This is about...
Character's name, is an orphan, a woman, a man, an alien, a slug
This takes place.....
This is the seventeenth adventure in a long line of adventures about a family with a lot of kids who get into a lot of trouble. ::sigh:
This is this, that is that.

Wake me up when you find a good one.


Jill said...

You nailed it. Xeranthemum! There's not much worse in review land, in my opinion, than an opening line(s)that regurgitates the blurb. I want to read a reviewers first impression of a book condenced down to a line or two. That tells me right away if I want to continue reading the review much less the book.

Shari said...

Great post Xer! Your blog has really helped me to tweak my reviews and given me so much insight into what I can do to make them better.