Sunday, April 25, 2010

Thinking About the Reader

Ok, in my last post I said I don't think much about the reader while I'm writing, but it's not true. I'm actually learning to think more about the reader with each novel I write. Many of the decisions I make while I'm writing are influenced by:
  • whether I think the reader will be confused by what I've just written
  • what information I think the reader needs to know in a scene
  • leaving space for the reader to react and think about an event, without slamming them over the head with what the main character is thinking
  • questions the reader might have about what is happening and when to answer them
I don't always consciously think about the reader, but whether I'm aware of it or not, the reader's reaction does come into play.

I've read somewhere (many places!) that it's a good idea to have an ideal reader in mind when writing your book. I do have one or two of those, including myself--I have to write the kind of book I'd like to read.


  1. This is a good point. I have a hard time doing this sometimes because my story is set in Korea but it's become so common to me that I forget that my readers might not have been there. It's something I have to constantly remind myself of.

  2. It's a tough balance between what you want the reader to know and what you want them to wonder. I think I'm getting better at leaving spaces for the reader to draw his or her own conclusions without making things too confusing. Now I'm having a hard time trying to figure out how soon my characters should catch on without a) breaking the suspense (they figure things out before the reader) or b) making them seem like idiots (they figure things out after the reader).

  3. Kate, that's a big problem for me in my third novel, which is more of a mystery. I think some of the information I've included is a bit too obvious, possibly influencing the tension.

    Christy, I think it's hard to know how much detail you need to create the flavour of a place, without bogging down the story.

  4. Great thoughts! Since I'm working on a mystery, you've given me some great questions to ask myself as I go along. Good post.


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