- A well-paced story, with a clever plot so I’m intrigued about what happens next.
- A clean and clear style that flows easily.
- Enough detail to trigger my imagination, one or two small things to set the scene but NOT a blow by blow description of every brick in every house in every town.
- No info dump lump but integrated detail dripped in about the world I’m being drawn into. And while we’re on settings, a plausible world, correct for its time and geographical location where the characters talk and dress appropriately.
- Lots of lively dialogue that carries the story along.
- Show me what the characters do and how they react rather than just tell me. I don’t mind whether characters are comfortable or not with their lives as long as the have made some change or developed in some way by the end. Flaws, temper, uncertainties and vulnerabilities are all fine, but please, not TSTL (Too stupid to live) or I’ll chuck the book in the bin.
- I’m very fond of characters who do the right thing for the right reasons, even if it’s against “the rules”. But they can definitely be a bit naughty and do some morally dubious things as long as they get to the honourable goal.
- I want to be able to identify with the characters, to find some common attitudes, experiences and feelings. They’re not me and I’m not them, but I want to connect.
- Not necessarily a happy ending, but a satisfactory resolution.
I’ve found nine things. What’s your tenth?