10 Story Elements That Always Hook Me

As I was going through all the old posts on my blog to clean up the categories, I noticed it had been quite a while since I did a general reading post that wasn’t a review. I also noticed a number of my reviews included statements like “any book that includes _____ has my immediate attention,” and I thought it would be fun to compile those statements into a single post. In no particular order…

Any book that includes…

1. Baking I love to bake myself, so I love to read about it too. Kids baking, teens baking, baking contests, baking camps, eating baked goods–any kind of baking is good. Other kinds of cooking aren’t quite the same, but it might catch my attention if the characters are whipping up something less sweet. If you check out my Instagram, probably one in five pictures are baked goods 😀.

2. Time travel – I’m completely fascinated by time travel and love to see how different authors tackle it. Can you change the past if you go back or not? What’s the future like? My debut book is a time travel story, except I wrote it in 2018 about a girl traveling from 1995 to 2020, assuming it would be safe to write life pretty much the same two years ahead. Um, yeah…

3. Alternate realities/dual timelines – I also really love stories with alternate realities, where the character gets to experience an alternate version of their life. Maybe that’s what’s happening to us all now???

I also enjoy stories where it jumps back and forth between the present and another time, and some mystery from the past relates directly to the present. When it’s done well, it’s so fantastic.

4. France – If it’s set in France–and especially Paris–I will want to read it and relive my week there 13 years ago. I’ve actually been a Francophile since I was a child, when a French family moved in down the street from us. As a result, I ended up taking French all through school instead of Spanish, which I know would have been more useful. But I adore anything to do with France. I’ve only been there once, but it was an amazing experience. As a sub-note, I also enjoy stories set in other European countries.

5. Jane Austen – I’ve loved Jane Austen since I first read PRIDE & PREJUDICE my freshman year in high school. I went on to read the rest her works, and my honors thesis for college was a comparative analysis of her books and their movie adaptations. Technically, that thesis is my first published work. There’s a copy in the Baylor University library, but it’s super-outdated now, as there have been another dozen adaptations since I wrote the thesis. I would have had so much fun writing about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies…

6. Shakespeare – I fell in love with Shakespeare at an even younger age. In my sixth grade gifted class, we put on a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (I was Titania), and I was hooked! I definitely prefer the comedies, although that is more of a life choice than a Shakespeare thing. But any book that includes Shakespeare, whether it is a retelling, discussion, or performance, is likely to catch my interest.

7. Cinderella – Speaking of retellings, I’m a total sucker for anything Cinderella related. It’s funny, because if you were to ask my favorite Disney movie, I wouldn’t say Cinderella, but I really love books that take a character out of obscurity and give them a total makeover. I really like fairy tale retellings in general, though, especially if they mix a whole bunch of fairy tales together.

8. Twins – I’m totally fascinated by twins and love stories where they have to switch places or are separated at birth or some other sort of craziness ensues.

9. Royalty – I love books about royalty. I don’t care if it’s a prince or a princess; I’m just fascinated by royalty. I’m sure it has to do with some childhood fantasy of becoming a princess myself.

10. Theater/Musical Theater – I love going to the theater, and I participated in it all through school (although I was mainly in the ensemble). Now my kids have both gotten into it as well. Love those drama geeks!

What are the hooks/premises that always make you want to read?

Responses to “10 Story Elements That Always Hook Me”

  1. Natalie Aguirre

    I love time travel, alternative realities and fairytale retellings too.


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