Monday, July 16, 2012

Introducing THE PUB! Come one, Come all.

 Bryan Hall, ArmandThe Pub-Main Page Rosamilia, and I have opened THE PUB. Here's a link to the front door: THE PUB

Pub Conversation 1
Getting Hooked....or not
With: Armand Rosamilia, Billie Sue Mosiman, and Bryan Hall

(I have joined with my two friends to do a weekly blog called The Pub. This is the first installment. Go to the main Pub page and bookmark it to read conversations we have with editors, authors, publishers, reviewers, and various other people involved with the book industry.)Yo

u know the old cliche'... three horror writers walk into a bar. The first orders a bloody mary, the second orders a bloody mikey...
Ahem. What happens when three (or more) horror writers sit down in a corner, order a few (or more) drinks, and have a casual chat about publishing and reading, but not from the angle of simply being horror writers, but readers first?

Each week the three of us (Bryan, Billie and Armand) will invite a friend or two to join in the conversation, buy the first round (or more) and add their thoughts to a continuing conversation about what makes us tick. Each week we'll tackle a new question, giving our own thoughts and answering your questions... oh, and perhaps giving some of our eBooks away... all because it's fun... and we're drinking.

What hooks you in a story and keeps you turning pages?

Armand: As a reader, I need to be hooked by the characters within the first couple of chapters or I get bored. You might have the greatest plot thrown at me, an eerie or unique premise, but if you don't make me want to invest my reading time in the character(s) you've lost me. I've read several books in the last few months that I couldn't get through the first three chapters because the main character was boring or unrealistic or was so passive with the plot pulling them along that I stopped reading. I have three bookshelves overflowing with thousands of books I haven't read and a Kindle loaded with over 500 eBooks. I'll never get to all of them, so for me, hook me with a great character, or expect me to move on.

Bryan: I'll agree, the hooks have to get sunk in quick or I'll stop reading as well.  But as important as I think great, believable characters are - and they're really, really important - if it's just another rehashed plot I'll end up struggling to finish it.  Characters are what you connect with, identify with, and the main thing that draws you in.  But if you just spend 300 pages of them doing nothing at all, just building them up with no kind of real plot action, there's no point.  And no matter how great those characters may be, if you just drop them into another cliched zombie story or the same old haunted house tale that's been told a thousand times over, it's a lot harder for me to keep interested.   So...yeah, I think characters are a vital cog in the machine, but if they're just spinning on their axle with nothing interesting going on, they're doomed to lose my interest. Bentley Little is one writer who really hooks you fast in most cases.

Billie: It's almost indefinable. Hooks can be anything from stating a death occurred, a house is being built, or a ship is sinking, but some kind of concrete premise for the character has to be in place. Conflict. Without either an outward action-packed conflict or an inner turmoil conflict going on, the character, no matter how well-developed, has nowhere to go. Building up to telling the story is something that some writers mistake as telling the story. Most stories and novels can have the first scene or chapter lopped off and start better. Hooks can be quiet and ominous. Or they can be fast and pin you to the page. The important thing is that the writer writes with confidence. He first hooks and amuses himself. He has to -see- it, feel it, taste it, smell it, know it is real and it's going to be so thrilling that he can hardly hold onto the mechanics of the writing long enough to get the words down. That urgency and excitement, even in quiet openings, builds within his reader, pulling him deeper into the page, immersing him into the story, holding him in a vice so that he won't wander. If I read a story that opened, "He walked in the dark." I might go on, I probably would, but I'd be skeptical. Yet if the first sentence said, "He walked in thunder." I would not be able to stop. I'd have to know more. Did he walk in real thunder, during a storm or something? Did he walk with high purpose and if so, what's that purpose? Did he walk in anger and that's the thunder wherein he walks? We want fiction to grab us quick and hold us tight. That can be accomplished in a myriad different ways.

With all that said, how quickly does a story need to hook you and draw you in before you give up on it?

Billie: I probably give it two paragraphs. Sometimes a whole page, if there's some small glimmer that I'm going to like it.

Armand: I will generally try to finish the first chapter of a story and see if it hooks me. Again, give me something mysterious about the character, give me some questions in my head I need to find out so it keeps me reading. Spelling and formatting errors, however, take me out of the book right from the opening, so if I find them it pulls me away from the story and I will give up quicker.

Bryan: I give it a couple of pages.  Even if there's not a big "Holy Crap" moment or a mystery, I'll give it time.  Unless the writing style is just a struggle to get through.  But after the first few pages if I don't find something interesting, I'll usually skip ahead a chapter or two and read a page to see if something interesting is going on there. 

Billie: Armand is a much more generous reader than I am, I see. I've always been a tough customer. When there used to be bookstores everywhere, I'd pull out a book from a shelf and look at the blurbs, look at the back description, and give it a first paragraph or so check and that's all the chance a book got. Today, browsing on online book sites, I do the same. I sample. Small sample.

Bryan: Good point, Billie. Nowadays, if that Amazon Sample or a few minutes in the bookstore don't catch me, I'll just keep on going.

Drop in next week when Weldon Burge, editor of the Zippered Flesh anthology, drops in to talk about what makes anthologies a great read for him. 


  1. I have to agree with all of you, I have a hard time continuing to read a book when the first chapter is as interesting, or less interesting then the ant that's walking across my porch. Although, I may continue, (I usually do), if it doesn't soon pick up, well then it has to go back on a shelf. Back on the shelf behind interesting books, lol, I also have 3 bookshelves and i have them stacked in so many ways, but they are in order!! (of importance) Anne Rice, Hunter S Thompson, Robert Anton Wilson, they are of course top shelf! Then the books that I get that are written poorly with no imagination, those get shoved behind.
    I just can't give a book away, I also have a hard time loaning books out. I did this one time in my life and I never saw it again. One I haven't read yet too!! So, I will keep the boring ones, but I will never read them.
    Thank you for posting an interesting post! I am a new follower and I am anxious to read more here!

  2. None of have the leisure time we used to have, Brandy, and the time we do have to spend on entertainment offers us a great many choices. As a reader, I really don't have time for bad books. Also, after a lifetime of reading, your tastes get quite particular. And peculiar, some might say! I know now exactly what I'm looking for and if the beginning is a dud, the whole thing is dead to me. Glad you stopped by! Click the link at the top of this blog post to visit The Pub where new posts will be put. Thanks!