Trust the Reader

I was on the phone with one of my writing coaching clients (who just so happens to be a kick-ass SciFi adventure writer).

"I'm enjoying your book," he said.

I thanked him.

"I think my wife is enjoying it even more.  She keeps stealing it from me."

I allowed as how this didn't surprise me, seeing as how the novel is most definitely women's fiction and my client's book is more of a rough-and-tumble type romp.

"She told me last night that she thinks she's just gotten to a place in the book where she is less irritated with Emma Jean and is beginning to see her change."

I loved hearing this, because it means that my client's wife got Emma Jean.  Yes, Emma Jean is self-absorbed to the point of cluelessness at the start (I believe one reviewer said she "wanted to take her by the shoulders and shake her") but there's also a deep woundedness inside her that makes her act this way.

I've always trusted my readers to get that. To get irritated with her, and want to shake some sense into her but still be willing to go on her journey with her–because they understand that she will transform at the end.

I'm not going to give away the ending by saying how she transforms, but suffice it to say she does transform.  That's what I love about women's fiction–its characters go on journeys of transformation.

The funny thing is, I had numerous agents tell me that Emma Jean was too "unrelatable."  And yet, over and over again, I get comments from people who tell me how much they love her, how they empathize with her, how they know someone just like her.

I'm glad I trusted the reader.

In what ways have you learned to trust the reader?

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4 Comments on "Trust the Reader"

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J.D.
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J.D.
04/09/2013 04:52

My books are unpublished. My readers are my writing group and my wife. My wife is reliable but I know she softens the blow some. My writing group is worse. They lie like kindergarteners by the broken cookie jar. Over time, I have learned to read both–I think. The reader I really have trouble with is myself. I think my story will be better if I can tell it in my voice. That’s the hardest part, trusting the story teller inside me. Like a golf swing, flawed or not, sometimes you just have to let it rip.

Zan Marie
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04/09/2013 05:59

Always trust the reader…now to translate that message into a book others want to read. LOL! I’m trying, I really am.

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
04/09/2013 06:45

Yes, that's a great point, J.D–who do you write for?  Who are your readers? I know when I am meeting regularly with a writing group I start writing to them, anticipating what they will say.  I'm not sure this is entirely a bad thing as you start to be able to anticipate criticism.  But, as you say, it can stymie you from just letting it rip.

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
04/09/2013 06:47

I know.  I am doing my best this time through to write a character that readers like from the outset!  I don't want to experience that uphill battle of everyone saying Emma Jean was "unrelatable" again.

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