10 things readers have in common

This morning I was reading a review of The book thief (Markus Zukas). The reviewer read the book based on recommendations from his friends who all said they loved it. Unfortunately the reviewer could find no reason to keep reading the book and abandoned it quite early. This led me to question how a writer knows s/he is a good storyteller in the face of so many mixed reviews. No two readers are the same, but there are commonalities, even across genres:

  1. All readers are looking for a good story. Chances are if you think it’s a good story, someone else will too
  2. Readers tend to look for relevant topics, relevant to their own lives and society in general. Relevant topics can be incorporated into any genre
  3. Readers want originality. The theme is less important than the way it is told
  4. By and large readers want believable stories. Writers often bend reality, but good writer’s make readers believe in possibilities
  5. Readers want to indulge beyond their own experiences. Readers want drama, laughter, conflict, suspense
  6. Readers want emotion, but not sentimentalism
  7. Readers are investing time, and, if you’re lucky, money, in your words – a good storyteller is reliable and consistent. There is nothing worse than having a story lose momentum or stop making sense halfway through
  8. Readers want realistic endings. Whether the ending is surprising or predictable, it must be believable
  9. Most readers take it for granted that a storyteller has faith in their own storytelling ability. If you lack confidence in storytelling, it will become obvious very quickly and the reader is likely to lose interest
  10. Readers are as diverse as writers. If you remember that you can’t impress all readers all the time, you’re halfway there

About Sharon

Writer, bibliophile, dreamer and student of everything
This entry was posted in ME ON WRITING, Readers and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to 10 things readers have in common

  1. calliopespen says:

    #9 struck me as absolutely, positively true but often overlooked. It is almost painful to read a writer who lacks confidence.
    Great post.

  2. jenniferneri says:

    I recently read a post somewhere asking if there is a diff between a reader reader and a writer reader. Do you think there is?
    For me, I found that novels I never would have prior to writing – some writing satisfies me as a writer than never would have when I was just a reader.

    • Jennifer
      There is definitely a difference between a “reader reader” and a “writer reader”. As a writer I read as much for the love of a good story as I do for research, exercise and education as a writer.

  3. Great post! If the reviews are mixed I think a writer can rejoice – some people like their book and you can’t expect to appeal to everyone.

    One interesting thing I find about reading is that, like the reviewer you mention, sometimes I’ll be recommended a book but can’t get in to it and don’t enjoy it so give up. But then I can pick it up years later and love it. So I think part of it depends on the reader’s mood at the time.

    Keep up the great writing!

    • Annabel,
      You’re absolutely right – mood has a lot to do with a readers response. I have several books going at one time for that very reason. If I’m honest it’s more like ten. Some books I finish in a couple of days, others seem to take months to wade through.

  4. pochp says:

    Your essay is published now Sharon 🙂

  5. pochp says:

    I like this. Even your weblog is great.
    Would you like me to repost this on WP Writers Group at pochp09.wordpress?

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