Thursday, September 9, 2010

How do you Encourage Reader Interest?

Reading thuRsday

We all have books we like only because we forced ourselves to keep reading. Similarly, we all have books we don't like because we forced ourselves to keep reading. In both cases, our feelings are stronger because of the effort we put into reading.

Clearly, we'll never sell anything that is impenetrable (unless you're named James Joyce) and we all want a story that pulls the reader effortlessly along, but I wonder if we spend unnecessary energy on making the story easy on the reader when we ought to focus on making it compelling?

I think readers will persist if they have some interest. For example, I've read books whose hook, blurb, or artwork fired my imagination. I've read books whose story pulled me in from the beginning. And I've read books for market research* that I would have abandoned if I had been reading for pleasure.  In all these cases, I read the entire book because I had some compelling interest in doing so.

What's tricky about reader interest is that there's only so much a writer can do. Reader interest can be enhanced or suppressed by external factors. How many times have you read something, not because of something about the book itself but because everyone is talking about it and you have to know too?

So, with all that said, what beyond the basics of craft, character, and plot, do you think important for catching and holding readers' interest?

Image: Michelle Meiklejohn /

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