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.


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.