I like to believe every reader has a subliminal “make-it or break-it” mindset when reading a book. The make-it or break-it could be the characters, plot, descriptions, or quality of writing. My strongest “make-it” factor is believability. I have to believe the story before I start to like it. This doesn’t mean it has to be realistic.
My favorite example is Cinder, by Marissa Meyer. In short, it’s a Cinderella-type story set in futuristic dystopian Bejing. The Cinderella character is a cyborg and the people of Beijing are at risk from an invading moon-species who control the minds of humans and cyborgs. When I first read the description, I set Cinder down with greatest skepticism. Due to my weakness against my sister’s pleading, I finally read it and my jaw bounced off the linoleum floor. Cinder turned into a black hole of believability and I happily succumbed to its draw. I’d never read a book about moon-species or cyborgs, the mention of another Cinderella story usually threatens to steal my lunch, and, when it comes to speculative fiction, I lean much heavier on the fantasy side than the science fiction side. But, because of its believability, Cinder captured the devotion of a skeptical reader…or perhaps controlled me with its moon-mind. Either way, we are both better off.
What about you? What is your “make-it-or-break-it” and, if you’re a writer, is it evident in your book?