The following are five of the most important things that I look for in a book.
1. Somebody who wants something. Desperately. The more a character wants something, really no matter what it is, the more we want them to get it. Unless it’s something nefarious, and then we hope they don’t reach their goal. Either way, we’re invested.
2. Characters that care about each other. If we like the main character, we’re going to care about the people she cares about. Whether it’s a romantic, a parent-child, or a friend relationship, we’ll be emotionally involved.
3. Believable dialogue that’s individual to the character. Nothing’s worse than dialogue that all sounds the same. Well, the one thing that’s worse than that is obvious expositional dialogue. “Wow, I sure haven’t been the same since my dad left when I was twelve and it’s a good thing I’m a championship swimmer, it may come in handy someday!”
4. It does what it’s supposed to do. If it’s a romance, the two people involved better be front and center, flirting or denying their attraction or whatever. I’ve read (well, started and abandoned) romance novels where the guy and girl are hardly in the same room together. Boring! If it’s a thriller, you better thrill me ASAP. Horror? Scare me. And quick.
5. Stuff keeps happening. A story drags if it’s the same old conflicts over and over. New developments, new revelations keep you turning the pages.
What keeps you reading a book? What makes you put it down?