Monday, October 10, 2011

The Care & Feeding of Readers

We've looked at the care and feeding of writers, but what about readers? What can we do as writers to make the reading experience a pleasure? What can readers do to enhance enjoyment of a story?


1. Remember the reader cannot see what you envision. They need description, showing, and great word choices to paint a picture in their minds.

2. Have mercy and eliminate those favorite words or at least use them sparingly. When readers see a word too many times in a book, they start counting. Guess what? It pulls them out of the story.

3. The reader hasn't looked over your shoulder while you poured over research material. Define terms they may not understand.

4.  As a follow-up to number 3 above, don't try to impress your reader with all your technical knowledge. Not everyone in your audience is a doctor, nurse, engineer, computer geek, etc. Realism is good, but losing your reader isn't.

5.  Pray for your reader as you write, as you brainstorm with others, and as you develop your characters and storylines.


1.  If you hate long novels, avoid anything thicker than an inch.

2.  Know your reading style. Do you read on the go? An eReader might be a great investment. Does the look and feel of a "real" book make you happy on the inside? Find a comfy chair and settle down with one.

3.  Does a genre make you want to run out of the room screaming? For your peace of mind and the author's, please don't buy it and then post nasty reviews on Amazon or your blog.

4.  I like books that are stand-alone novels, but are also a series. Tamara Alexander's Fountain Creek Chronicles gave me many hours of reading pleasure. If you enjoy following characters from one book to another, feed the reader within by picking up a series.

5.  Before you choose a book, do your homework. Read reviews, blogs, author websites, and author interviews. You'll feel more confident in your selections, and there will be less chance of disappointment.

Writers and readers: Do you have any suggestions for the care and feeding of the reader?


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Susan .. I rather wish I'd had the opportunity to read a synopsis of many literary books - eg the Austens, Brontes, Dickens etc .. as it's only really now I'm getting an understanding into their meaning!

I've always loved historical novels as long as they entertain and educate me ... and are written in a style that keeps me reading along.

I don't "do" (write) books - but I'm aware I need to be as I've described above probably .. with the personal aspect thrown in for good measure in my posts ..

My posts I'd like to feel are not just to be read .. but read to someone and then a conversation can ensue (not necessarily about the post, but some other thought).

Perhaps we too often read, write for ourselves or our readers ... but not for that dialogue that might take place. It's not an easy concept to get across ..

Thanks and have a good week .. Hilary

Wendy Paine Miller said...

What a truly clever idea. I could read these over and over!


I've been hearing a lot of love your reader lately. Makes perfect sense to me. I like that you added pray for them too.
~ Wendy

Karen Lange said...

Excellent, Susan! As a writer and a reader, I can relate. Thanks for breaking it down for us. :)

Unknown said...

Great advice! I particularly love how you say to pray for your reader. Nice post. :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Hilary - Good points. Writers are often advised to have a take-away for the reader, something they can think about or use in their lives.

Hi Wendy - Thanks for the compliments. :) Diaries and journals are for our benefit, but the books we write are for the reader.

Hi Karen - I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Lists keep me on track with tasks, so why not use them as a reminder to love my reader?

Hi Nisa - Welcome, and thanks for commenting.

Susan :)

quietspirit said...

As a writer, I sometimes forget that my readers might think I use big words. It happened when a friend of mine told me on FB that I had used two 'big' words. I asked her which ones she meant.
As a reader, I don't care to get lost in the descriptive passages.

Kathleen said...

Whether writing OR reading, have plenty of chocolate at the ready!
(no charge)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Quiet Spirit - Most editors want authors to write at a 6th grade level. Thanks for bringing up the use of "big words."

Hi Kathleen - I second the motion! You know I'm a big fan of chocolate. :)


Melanie N. Brasher said...

What a GREAT list, Susan! Wow, I need to remember to pray for readers. What a good reminder.

Have a great week!

Sarah Forgrave said...

I love both of these lists, Susan! I especially love the advice to pray for our readers. Hope you have a great week! :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Melanie - I want my writing to be more than entertainment. Prayer is a key component to seeing lives changed.

Hi Sarah - Thanks. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: words are containers. They're either devoid of life or filled to overflowing.

Susan :)

Kristen said...

Love these!
As writer I think it's also important to remember in our marketing that our book/article/message might not be for everyone. It might come at the wrong time in their life, or perhaps isn't for them at all. So we need to be sensitive to that and who and where God is leading us as we write. We must focus on those He is leading us to minister to and not beat ourselves up when our writing isn't accepted, as well received, or sells as many copies as we'd like.

Thanks for the reminders, Susan!
Have a fantastic day:)