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Writing for Readers

There’s an interesting discussion going on, described by Catdownunder. It caused me to ponder the following question:

If you write for readers, which readers do you write for?

Presumably, the answer is that you write for the majority. Which begs the question:

What about the rest of us?

Do we always have to put up with what the majority want?

I’m thinking of Jodi Picoult’s book, Nineteen Minutes. I read it because someone told me it’s about bullying. The book says several important things about bullying and I felt a lot of empathy towards the main character, despite the terrible crime he committed.

But.

I didn’t like the ending. I felt as if the author said, “My readers want a surprise, so I’ll tack one onto the end and then go through the book and throw in some foreshadowing.”

Also, the back-cover blurb mentions nothing about bullying. Would the majority of readers be put off if they knew that was the topic?

And what about readers who don’t know what they want? Must they be limited in their reading by people who tell them, “This is what you want”? Like my mother, who insisted on reading the Alice books to me because I was supposed to like them.

Catdownunder suggests another way, one that sounds more difficult to pull off but is probably more satisfying for the reader, whoever he or she is.

By Miriam Drori

Author, editor, attempter of this thing called life.

3 replies on “Writing for Readers”

Thankyou for the mention Miriam. Yes, I think it is definitely more difficult to pull off but – for those that can manage it – the result can be very powerful for both writer and reader.

This is an interesting and difficult question. I think it boils down to trying to reach an audience that not only reads, but also spends money on books. There are a lot of people out there that think that literature should be free just like free music and free movies. So I guess I write in the hopes that I shall reach readers who aren’t afraid to shell over a couple of bucks for a good story.

Miriam Hi, sorry I’ve been up to my ears so I’m visiting after a delay.
My work tends to be mainly in the controversial or non-mainstream area. I’ve recently changed the genre for the eBooks to ‘Literary Fiction’, this as response to readers comments. Many thought the genres assigned led them astray somehow. I’ve not had any negative feedback but when writing, I try to forget all that. I don’t consider the reader until the edit and then I find I am toning down, taking out the stuff that’s too challenging. I all most hate myself for doing that but the result is often an improvement in the work.
I would say though, that writing to please readers is a different kind of work.
It would be easy to use elitist language right here but I’m trying to avoid that. Let’s just say I could not do that kind of work. It’s so very personal – ones writers voice. I like mine to be as true and honest as I can and I know that limits the numbers but I accept that and sleep easier.
All the best, great stuff here.
David Rory O’Neill.

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