Discussion: Do You Power Through Slow Openings?

Photo credit: Kamil Porembiński on Flickr
So I'm currently reading This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab, which I've been reading on and off for over a month now. Yes, a month. This is an interesting case because while I tested the book before buying and loved the opening (I mean, it starts with a teen girl burning down an (empty) school chapel with the explicit aim of getting expelled from said school, which is a pretty sweet hook if I've ever read one), and while I loved the writing and was interested by the fascinated world building...for some reason it just didn't grab me at first.

I still haven't really pinned down what it was, exactly, that made it so easy for me to put the book down and not feel super motivated to pick it up again later. It wasn't like I was bored while I was reading (I wasn't!) but I guess I just wasn't invested in the first 100 pages as I generally like to be.

Over the weekend, however, I sat down and power through the pages partially because I felt bad for letting it sit there for a month, partially because my Goodreads challenge was (is) yelling at me, partially because my pre-orders of A Conjuring of Light, The Hate U Give, and The Ship Beyond Time are all arriving soon and I have some re-reads I need to get started on, and partially because I really wanted to finish it before picking up another YA. So I sat and read and after I got beyond the 100-page mark, I found it was not-so-difficult to keep reading because I was finally invested (yay!) and I ended up reading over 200 pages that day.

So now I've made good progress (finally) and I'm super hooked to the story (so hooked I chose to read it instead of playing more Final Fantasy XV, which is saying a lot) and I'll probably finish it before this posts. But all of that made me think about how usually, when I pick up a book with a slow opening in the store, or I hear about books with slow openings in reviews...I tend to walk away.

Granted this was a special case because the opening wasn't slow and I couldn't have predicted that the first 100 pages wouldn't pull me in despite liking so many elements, but the situation is similar. In my own writing, I always make sure to try to do my best to have a compelling opening, because I'm well aware a lot of readers testing a book won't give you the chance of a 100 pages for the story to get interesting unless they already like your writing—meaning they've already read your previous books and are willing to give you the benefit of the doubt—or for some, they've been told to read past the slow part and they're willing to do it.

When working with unpublished writers, my advice is similar—to make sure you have a compelling hook, because most agents and readers won't wait around for the story to get good for a writer they don't know.

But I think that's the key there, too—This Savage Song isn't the first Schwab book I've read, so even if I'd been bored by the opening, I still may have very well given the book a chance because I already know I love her work. Same goes for those pre-orders coming in save for The Hate You Give, which is a debut, but I pre-ordered them all without testing because I either already love the author's writing or I trust the people who've read the book and said it was awesome.

While I admit I don't test books quite as often as I used to because I tend to rely more heavily on word of mouth these days, I still tend to follow the unspoken agreement with myself that I won't waste my time on a boring book because quite frankly, I have way too much to read. So if I test a book out and don't love the opening—I put it back. Or if I browse book reviews and see more than one say they found the first third slow—I don't add it to my TBR.

But given my experience with This Savage Song, which I will probably be recommending with the caveat of "power through the first 100 pages," it does make me wonder how many other books I've passed by that I would actually enjoy after the first third or so.

I won't be finding out because I'm still keeping to my agreement with myself because I really shouldn't be taking over a month to finish a book. But it's interesting to think about nevertheless.

Do you power through slow openings? Always? In certain cases? Never? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

Twitter-sized bite:
Do you power through slow book openings, or choose something else to read? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...