10 - First way to hook me? An amazing cover. Not saying a cover will make or break it for me, but if you can catch my attention with a cover...you have your foot in the door, my friend.
9 - Brilliant description - This is a fine line to walk. Some books give hardly any description, while others go a bit overboard - I really don't need a run down of every piece of furniture in the room, thank you very much. There needs to be enough that I can picture it in my head but not so much that it's tedious and obtrusive.
8 - Internal conflict - I'm more drawn to internal conflict. I find it more compelling. I don't know why, exactly, but I will usually choose an book that is driven by internal conflict over one driven by external conflictl. Maybe because it's more identifiable? I can relate and sympathize more? Well, whatever the reason...there it is.
7 - But...give me a really freaking good external conflict...I won't walk away. I can really dig a story where the character(s) is on the run from or fighting a big bad or having to survive a really horrible situation or environment.
6 - Angst... DUDE. Give me an angst-filled story.... Le sigh. I eat that stuff up with a freaking spoon every single time. I will ugly cry and re-read again and again. Yes, I will.
5 - Good characterization - Well written, fully developed believable characters that grow throughout the story is a surefire way to hook me. No too-stupid-to-live characters, no major alphaholes that have no redeeming qualities whatsoever... Hell, even a villain should be more than a flat, one-dimensional representation of a bad guy. Some of my all-time favorite characters are villains - usually ones I could identify with, sympathize with and understand why they were doing what they were doing even if it was horrifying and/or wrong. The biggest thing is they just aren't 100% evil to give the story a bad guy. They have layers, dammit.
4 - A good friends-to-lovers story. Oh, be still my heart. My all-time fave trope.. Seriously, I go looking for these, and I will hold onto the ones I love to go back to time and time again.
3 - Originality & Variety - Have you ever really loved an author but then after a while it seems as though are reading the same story again and again? That it's just slightly different look for the heroine or the setting is a bit different but it's basically the same story you read before? No one wants that.
Or sometimes it's the same character (unintentionally) popping up in every book...with just a slightly different face.
Though I'd like to point out that in Doctor Who, even though each actor is technically playing the same character, they make the Doctor their own. Each incarnation has its own characteristics, mannerisms and quirks. And that's one of the things that makes it freaking brilliant.
Obviously, we all have our favorite types of stories. Like I said, friends-to-lovers is a big one for me. So are books based on Arthurian legend. I love me a good vampire or shifter book too. But what I really, really love is when an author puts new spin on it. They take something and make it their own. I think, as authors, we have a responsibility - not only to readers but to ourselves - to stretch ourselves, to move beyond our comfort zones. And that includes looking at our body work and making sure we aren't writing the same story or the same character again and again.
2 - A balance of information - There is a fine line authors walk when writing. The reader needs to be given enough information to follow the story and to (eventually) understand why characters are doing what they are doing, but they don't need to be hit over the head with every single detail or reason characters are doing something. It's playing in the middle ground, really. The reader isn't stupid and doesn't need to be spoon fed - which will just annoy and lead to a book being set aside - however, they can't be expected to make huge leaps of understanding with nothing in the book to support it - which leaves the reader scratching their heads and leads to a book being set aside.
1 - And finally... Write me a long, well-written, angsty as F&$k with lots of kinky sexy times (and no freaking slow-burn, thank you very much) Merthur fanfic, and I am yours.