If you’ve been writing any length of time, you’ve heard of Noah Lukeman’s The First Five Pages. Essentially, Mr. Lukeman states that agents must be hooked on the first five pages to ever ask for more of your manuscript.
But what of readers? I know that I’ll give about any book more than five pages. I’ll give them more than the first chapter. Unless the book isn’t what I thought is was at all, or the characters or writing isn’t my taste at all, I’ll give the author five chapters.
I’m wondering if I’m alone in giving an author so many pages or chapters to keep me reading. It seems to me that more reviewers on blogs, Amazon, etc., are complaining about books that start slow. I’m looking back at some of my favorite authors and I guess that by ‘today’s’ standards, they’re slower than turtles stampeding through peanut butter in January.
This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy a book that jumps right smack into the heart of things. I do. But, as long as the writing is good and the story has an initial hook, the author has a certain grace period with me. In some cases, I think that books that leap into action never fully develop the plot or characters enough for my tastes. It can’t just be a bunch of stuff happening or snappy dialog. The story has to build a certain ‘depth’ to it.
How about you? How long does an author have to draw you into their story? Will you read two, three, four, or even five chapters of a book if the premise is interesting but things aren’t happening at a quick pace?