I didn’t want an e-reader. I mean I really really really didn’t want an e-reader. I would read paper books only. And that was that.
Until I bought an iPad. Then I discovered how easy it is to read with a reader. And how wonderful it is to have books available all the time. Heck, my library even lends e-books! I discovered how comfortable it is to read curled up half hidden under the blankets with the lights off–reading in the dark!!! Who would have thought? My inner child was smiling in delight!
But I noticed something the other day when I was looking for my next book to read: I’ve become fussy. All of a sudden I can sample an endless supply of books without doing any work at all. I don’t have to go the bookstore or the library. I don’t have to spend hours looking at titles and reading the flaps and the first pages and decide if I want to bring something home or return it to the shelf. I don’t have google reviews and decide if I want to add the book to my cart.
I can read a few pages without any sort of commitment at all.
I noticed this, and I noticed that I would literally read a line or two sometimes and delete the sample. Sometimes a paragraph. Most of the time not even a page.
This wasn’t a conscious decision. And this is certainly not something I would have done before. Read one line and give up on the book? Never. And yet, here I am doing it.
As a writer, I questioned myself: What kept me reading past those first lines? And more importantly, why didn’t I keep reading?
The answer was that I wanted immediacy. I wanted to be brought into a situation right of the bat. If there was descriptive prose, it had to be linked to something or someone. It couldn’t be words for the sake of beauty alone. So, not only have I become a fussy reader, I’ve become an impatient one. I don’t want to sift through pages and paragraphs to get to the story, I want to be in it with the very first word.
The take away message here is this: Writers, if we thought those first lines were important, e-readers have made them even more so.