Chat Between Chapters: Should Writers Give Readers What They Want?

January 26, 2014 Chat Between Chapters, Featured Posts 20


 Novellas, companion books written from the male’s POV, specific endings (usually HEAs): Should readers dictate what author’s write?

Rose review avatar Rose:

Of course! Hey! Who is the consumer here anyway, right??? That being said, ultimately, what I really want as a reader is an experience. I love reading contemporary new adult because I want to relive a time in my life when I didn’t feel like anyone understood me. Seriously, had these book existed like 10 years ago, how different would my life have been? I would have felt so much more connected to the world.  I also love reading YA because I want to experience first love all over again. I love reading historical fiction because I love being swept up in a whirlwind of another time and place with issues that at the surface might seem far removed from my own, but once you dig a little deeper, you discover that the people and the places and the problems of the past are not all that different from those of today. So, like I said, I read for an experience, a thrill. Like a heart stopping, breathing taking roller coaster of a ride, I read for the sheer exhilaration.  Now, I actually do NOT like roller coasters at all, but if I did, I might be able to pinpoint EXACTLY what it is that I liked about them. I might even turn to my friend beside me waiting in the 2 hour ridiculousness that is the line at the amusement park and have a conversation much like this:

“Omagosh! I am so excited. They say this things reaches speeds of over 90 mph, Julie!” 

And Julie could reply, “I know! Can you believe it! I can’t wait to experience the negative g’s on the inverted barrel roll!” (or something) 

and then we can go on and on about how if we dare to open our eyes at the top, we could see Canada on a clear day before plummeted over 310 feet at an 80 degree angle and blah blah blah blah blah.

Really just thinking about riding something like that in real life makes me wanna puke, and then pass out and then cry, in that order. So my point is, what if, as roller coaster riders, Julie and I studied the track so well that we knew what was coming at each and every bend in the track. At every corner, we could anticipate the next corkscrew or drop? Would we still enjoy the ride? Assuming that we really did love roller coasters, then yes. We would. But would we be as thrilled as we could be if we didn’t always know what to expect? No we would not. And that is my point.  As a reader, I do have expectations and perhaps those expectations, which happen to be shared with a lot of other readers, do in fact influence what writers write and publishers publish.  However, I love being surprised. Even if the surprise is bad, sometimes, a reader needs a good swift punch in the face, or gut or tear ducts. I might not like it if I do not get my happily ever afters (HEAs) by I will certainly remember a book that caught me totally by surprise. Also, I like when an author does what he/she feels is true to the characters. If a character really would never marry the hero, then, by all means, let them break up or move on or grow apart, whatever. If a character would never be happy settled down, then, go with what the character would actually really do. As a reader, I can respect an author for writing a well written, original storyline even if I do not like how the book ends. (Or perhaps even that  the book ends and the author is not going to write a sequel or companion book.) Any author that maintains his or her true vision with integrity to the characters and plot, has my respect. And besides, how would you ever fall in love with a book if all it ever gave you was exactly what you wanted and never once took you by surprise?

Julie Review Avatar Julie:

This is a topic that readers like to debate. Sure, we are the target audience and if the readers are no longer happy with the direction of the books, we’ll go somewhere else. So in a way, if authors write what their readers want to read, they will ensure their books continue to sell. However, the story is up to the writer and that writer should be able to write his/her story however feels right. Do I think the readers should demand a different ending than the way the author wants to end a book or series? Well, no. The story and the characters live with the author, and the author needs to be true to the story and true to the characters. Changing the direction the story goes just because of reader demand is not right. I mean, that’s what fan fiction is for, right? But I do think it is fine when authors notice a trend and cater to it because they know their readers will appreciate it. This is the case with alternate POV companion books that have been coming out lately. There seem to be quite a few romances nowadays with a separate book being published from the male’s perspective. Sometimes these do a good job introducing new information to the plot, but sometimes they are just a rehashing of the story. But, if it sells and makes readers happy, there really isn’t anything wrong with that, right? I’ve heard some authors at signings or even in their blogs ask the audience if there is a specific character that should get their own novella, so they are interested in knowing which of their characters we want to hear  more about. But, I definitely think we as readers should not be telling authors outright that we demand something, whether a novella, a companion book, or a change in the way the plot is going. 

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20 Responses to “Chat Between Chapters: Should Writers Give Readers What They Want?”

  1. Nuzaifa @ Say It with Books

    Yes and no. In order to sell books yes the author would have to give the reader what he/she wants but at the same time they need to let go and let the characters do what they want to do. If not the story comes across as forced and THAT is not going to be a hit with ANY market.
    Great post guys-Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Julie

      I agree, the characters need to drive the story, not the readers. Thanks for stopping by:)

  2. Katie

    Thought-provoking question! I’m not a novel writer, but I think the writer needs to be true to his/herself. He is the creator of the story. Sure, the writer wants books to sell, but I think there is something ‘inauthentic’ if the writer just writes to cater to an audience. Hopefully, there will be someone who wants to read what they are writing. I think constructive criticism is good, of course – but just like blogging, I think we need to write for ourselves first. Just my two cents! lol Coming by from SITS comment love!
    Katie recently posted…Everyone Has a Story – and They All Need to Be Told

    • Rose

      Katie, good point. I do think that we need to write for ourselves first and our audience second. I agree that writing to please readers lends itself to “inauthentic” writing.

  3. Katie @ AMotherThing

    My personal opinion is that if the book is dissatisfying, it won’t sell. So you must keep the reader in mind. But the best books are the ones that keep you guessing and invested in the characters. So the author needs to really be a fan, as well as a writer. 🙂 New friend stopping by from SITS.
    Katie @ AMotherThing recently posted…Siblings {February}

    • Rose

      Thanks for stopping by Katie! And yes, I think a good author is also a well read author that likes the genre in which he/she writes.

  4. Jen

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Your example is the perfect illustration of how made dropping cheapens the story. A topic up never gave much thought to, but I’m sure I’ll be noticing in my future reading.
    Jen recently posted…How 2013 Changed My Mind

    • Rose

      Thanks Jen. The more I read, the more I notice this. It seems to me, too that indie published books are more likely to name drop than traditionally published books.

    • Rose

      Lora, I can understand that. Reader’s do have to enjoy reading your books. That being said, sometimes I think of us readers as children and the authors as parents. Sometimes children think they know what they want and what would make them happy, but sometimes the parents know better… and the children’s life turns out better for it… am I making sense? In other words, sometimes I THINK I just NEED to have a companion book written from the male POV but then after I read it, it is like some of the magic that existed in the first book is lost because now I have TOO much detail/info…

  5. Stacy Overman Morrison

    I appreciate this post. As a writer, it is a very intuitive dance between author/reader/character and many times, someone will get her toes stepped on. I’m a character-driven writer, so I find that my work is best moderated by being true to my characters. I do keep the reader in mind as I write, but the final say is the character’s.

    • Rose

      Stacy! I think that the characters SHOULD always have the final say. Care to share what you write? what genre, I mean? I really appreciate character driven novels.

    • Rose

      I dunno, I wrote this post at like 3 am or something…and the bf was giving me crap about how I only liked reading and I was like, no fair, I take part and like all of HIS hobbies and he was like, nope. and I was like, yep. and he said nope and so I was like prove it, name ONE thing he likes that I refuse to participate in and he said, ride roller coasters and I promptly shut the heck up.

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