Do we have a deal?

Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

Don’t forget to click the purple button to see what everyone else has to say on this week’s subject. It’s at the end of my post.

How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?

I think that the relationship between author and reader is like an informal contract, where both parties have rights and responsibilities.

It’s all very well, me demanding that the reader gives their undivided attention (and adulation) to my work. I have to offer my part of the deal, a story that makes it impossible for them to do anything else.

The reader has the right to get value for money, to be entertained by my words. They then have the responsibility to tell everyone what a fantastic book it was; so that my reputation increases.

As the author, I have the responsibility of producing an amazing piece of fiction that is as free from errors as I can make it. This surely gives me the right to be properly rewarded for my efforts.

To do my part, I have to ease the reader into the story, I need to make them feel welcomed and at home, so that they can relax and enjoy it, with the minimum of effort on their part. If I make it hard to read, they may well feel that I have broken the terms of our arrangement and feel free to do likewise. Let’s be honest, neither of us wants that. It could be the end of a beautiful friendship.

The story has to have a hook right at the start, as we discussed last time. Then, there’s the pacing. Information will obviously need to be imparted, whether its backstory or plot. And it has to be done so that it’s not overwhelming.

It’s no good dumping all sorts of information on page one, that only makes it feel like reading a textbook, how often do you do that for pleasure?

Personally, I like to see backstory and plot all mixed up together, expressed as part of the action, or a conversation between characters. It’s the way life is, so why not repeat it in fiction, it makes it realistic and imparts a feeling of familiarity.

The plot should be engaging and move along, without boring passages, every chapter ending at a place that encourages the turning of the next page.

And then there’s the twist or the big reveal. It’s all very well to say that they would never see it coming but again, from my point of view, I only want the reader to pause or be surprised for an instant.

Then they can either bask in the knowledge that they had worked it out, or they can look back and see all the little clues and hints that have been scattered, sift out the false trail and say, “of course, why didn’t I realise.”

Whatever, if they have a smile, or even a feeling of sadness that it’s all over, then I’ve done my job, fulfilled my part of the deal.

The rest is up to them.

Until next time.

Let me know what you think about this week’s subject.

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6 Responses

  1. Steven Smith

    I agree – I love it when I cannot see the ending coming until I get there. That said, when I look back and can see little breadcrumbs, that makes it even better. The idea that the author has set this up from the off, without you knowing until you know what it is you are looking for.

    • Richard Dee

      Never mind the element of surprise, the realisation that the answer was under your nose all along is much more satisfying.

  2. Daryl Devore

    Getting the reader’s undivided attention – and adulation – works for me 🙂

    Then you asked paraphrased – who reads textbooks for fun?You haven’t met my husband 🙂


    • Richard Dee

      Textbooks remind me of school, not the happiest of times.

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