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Give it ten minutes.

It’s a symptom of the modern age that we have less and less attention span. The situation hasn’t been helped by the advent of streaming. We can get movies and books instantly. If we don’t like the one we’re watching or reading, we can change at the prod of a finger.

Once upon a time, I used to have to go down to the local Blockbuster video store and physically borrow a copy of a film. An even longer time ago, I would go to the library every Saturday morning for my weekly ration of reading matter.

Either way, movies or books, I was stuck with the selection I’d made. If the film was rubbish, I’d watch it anyway because I’d taken ages to choose it, queued up to rent it, paid for it and driven there and back. And there wasn’t anything else for us to watch. If the book I’d borrowed was a bit dry, I’d read it anyway.

Now I have Netflix and Amazon and iPlayer and Kindle and iBooks. If what I’m reading or watching isn’t doing it for me, it’s liable to get replaced by something else. Instantly.

That’s what I call the ten minute rule. Sometimes ten minutes is being over-generous with my time. A good film has me forgetting that I’d decided to give it ten minutes because I get absorbed.

As a writer, I feel compelled to give books a bit more room to impress me. A slow start doesn’t necessarily mean a bad book. However, I’m conscious that many readers these days aren’t so patient. Books are chosen on the basis of the cover and then the first few sentences. Quite honestly, I’d be happy if readers would give my books a whole ten minutes.

Which makes it incredibly satisfying when people do read my books from cover to cover. My publishers recently promoted my first Jenny Parker thriller in Australia and we sold lots of copies. What was most exciting, though, was the number of people that bought and read the other two in the series. Unless I’m deluding myself, these wonderfully astute readers must have enjoyed their first taste of Jenny Parker to be willing to pay for more. Nothing could be more satisfying for an author like me.

Having said that, I’m constantly aware of the need to make my books as instantly compelling as possible. There’s no room for shilly-shallying about in the modern novel.

The ten minute rule sees to that.

Browse D. J. Harrison’s Jenny Parker series HERE

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