Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Not Disappointing Our Readers

Recently I went to lunch in a fairly new steak house in our little town that everyone’s been raving about. We tried a couple of times to go in the evening and learned they had an hour’s wait and were too hungry to stay.

Four of us went, two of us ordered the same thing, hot roast beef sandwiches. When our food finally arrived it was nearly cold. The other two had hot food the way it ought to be. We waited for the waitress to appear again, but she didn’t so I went after her and told her the fool was cold. She took it away. Awhile later, we could hear the cooks ringing the bell, but she didn’t even pause from what she was doing. When she finally brought our plates back with the food heated, she gave us the wrong ones. I knew because of the way I’d tasted and moved around my mashed potatoes. Sad, because restaurants never last long in our town–and if things don’t improve, this one won’t make it either.

As writers, we need to make sure we don’t disappoint our readers like the restaurant disappointed me.

First, of course, we must write a good book. It doesn’t have to be a great book, but a story that will satisfy the reader. A story that will transport the reader to a different place and give them a few hours of enjoyment.

I do realize that readers have different tastes and not everyone will like the same book. The point I’m trying to make, though, is if the book is advertised as a suspenseful page turner, then it better live up to that description. If the cover says it’s a cozy then there shouldn’t be any graphic sex scenes or guttural language. That doesn’t mean a writer can’t stretch and write a book that crosses genre lines as long as the book is well-written and keeps the readers interest.

Because there are certain genres I’m not particularly fond of, I won’t buy them because I know I won’t like the book no matter how well-written it is. Just like if I didn’t like sushi, I wouldn’t go to a restaurant where that’s all that’s served. (I do like sushi, it just seemed like a good comparison.)

One thing I have learned over the years though, is to keep reading even if I'm not immediately captivated–sometimes it takes awhile for me to be sucked into the story. Part of that might be because the editor part of my brain isn’t turned off–once I get into the imaginary world the writer has created, I’m able to relax and enjoy the book.

Probably I’m more critical of food in a restaurant than the books I read–but when I’ve put out money for either one, I do expect to enjoy myself.



Akum said...

I have to agree with you... Good comparison

Adele said...

I feel a bit cheeky, but as she's a contributor here, would it be ok to plug this contest for Dana Fredsti's awesome noir novel here?


Dana Fredsti said...

Interesting post, Marilyn, and one that made me think 'cause I've actually gotten more open to genres I don't normally like if the book is well written. My expectations are non-existent, so I'm always pleasantly surprised to get sucked into a book outside of my 'comfort zone', so to speak.

Adele, you are VERY cheeky, but too sweet! I should have plugged your contest on my blog and will do so!

Guys, I swear I did NOT set her up to this. :-)

Mark Troy said...

I don't think of myself as being critical of restaurants, but if the food or service disappoints me I won't give the restaurant a second chance. I'm more critical with books. I do expect a book to grab my attention early. As I get older, I no longer worry about giving up on a book that doesn't get my attention. There are too many other books to read. Usually, I mark the place where the book lost my interest because I may want to go back later to find out why so I can avoid the problem.

Morgan Mandel said...

Great points, Marilyn. Some of the burden also needs to fall on the publishers to classify a book correctly.

Most of the burden does lie with the author to live up to the highest standards possible and do the best that we can do to make a good book.

Morgan Mandel

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