Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Reader's Advice to Writers

I recently wrote about the Ten Rules for Fiction Writers from The Guardian that writers are still chatting about online. Now comes, in Salon, A Reader's Advice to Writers, specifically aimed at novelists.

What do readers want?

1. A protagonist who wants something.
2. A protagonist who does something.
3. Story/Characters/Theme/Setting, in that order.
4. Beautiful prose style isn't that important.
5. "A sense of humor couldn't hurt."

Hmm. Okay. Thanks to this reader for this advice. But I'm a reader, too, in addition to being a writer. I find that "funny" gets in the way, often. That's not the kind of book I like to read, and that's not the kind of book I write. And while I recognize that "beautiful prose style" isn't important to many/most readers (otherwise John Grisham would still be practicing law in Mississippi), it does help set the ordinary book apart from the extraordinary, and I don't know any writer who is thrilled about ordinary. I can't argue with the first three on the list though, and they're good to remember as I put the finishing touches on my novel.


Jessie Carty said...

reminds me of high school when several kids asked our english teacher - can we have a happy book?

3squire said...

Eh, the Salon guidelines are bland enough and general enough to cover just about any book I have ever seen, from the very worst to the very best, so you don't really end up anywhere with them.

But that's how all writer guidelines seem to come across anyway.