What Draws Chebk to a Book

Cheri and I are planning to participate in a short story contest hosted by We Need Diverse Books (WNDB). They asked us to create a story for 8-12 year olds.

Well, Cheri and I haven’t been in that age group for a couple decades now and we were having a hard time finding where to start writing. The first thing we did was think of books that we read during this time then immediately threw that idea out (we read ahead of our age group). Instead we thought about what drew us into a book back then — and even now.

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Page Master gif. I thought it was apt for being drawn into a book (har, har har).

Back in the day (and sometimes now) I had a severe case of ‘judging books by their covers.’ Literally every book I picked up was first scanned to see if there was something that caught my eye. This would be solely for the first book in the series, of course.

The surest way to pass cover inspection was to have something interesting and new for me. This usually consisted of girls on the cover looking mischievous or wearing armor. A good title with an unexpected picture could also be a winner — say some kind of war, death thing with a picture of a girl.

Now that I have the book in my hands, it’s a fifty-fifty whether I’ll read the summary or not. When I used to, it was an indication of how the story was written, whether it was interesting enough for me to read on or not. Now that I know author’s do not always have a hand in the summaries, I am a bit more lenient with the plot points portrayed on the jackets.

Sometimes I would just pick up books and start reading. I never liked how the summaries would tell you what was happening and it might take you half the book to get there.

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Dodging spoilers.

There are certain things each person looks for and favors. I tend towards action-oriented books that have some point of interest that is different from anything I’ve read before. I also like underdog stories so this usually took the form of some sort of assassin story of a kid being picked off the street and turned into a weapon of some sort or a bastard child of someone who becomes important.

I loved stories where the kids would somehow usurp the system or beat out the others. But in all cases, though I love and gravitate and almost require action-oriented pieces, I was strangely patient with books in my youth.

I would keep on reading a book until the action started. Yes, I would read the entire book if I felt the action hadn’t started yet (probably a symptom of too much time) but I read books I had little interest in this way. In fact, I have read entire series this way. Since then, I have become less patient and will give a book a hundred pages. If I felt the story hadn’t started, I will put down the book and give up.

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Stopping with reading awful stories. (Lots of Matrix today.)

So anyway, that’s what I tended to look for in books so that’s what I intend to write. Unfortunately, I am a bit rusty when it comes to writing so we’re going to do a small writing exercises online and want you to join us! Our prompt is:

Light horror romance with a socially anxious monk (courtesy of Sanjiv)

We will hopefully have this done for you guys on the 15th and we’ll share what we have and have a link post if you want to share what you’ve come up with.

Cheri will be back on Tuesday with what draws her into a book so look forward to that! What draws you guys into a book? Let us know in the comments!

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