Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Be Good . . . the things even E.T. knew . . .

By Julie Wright

Advice for the day: Be good to your readers.

It makes sense right? After all, they are the ones shelling out hard earned money to read your books. You want to treat them right so they feel like it was worth it. But what does that mean?

That means if you are writing in the romance genre and the girl doesn't get the guy in the end, you weren't good to your readers.

Ever genre comes with reader expectations. If you're writing romance, somebody better be falling in love. If you're writing murder mystery, somebody had better be dead and avenged by having their killer caught. If you're writing horror, the reader had better be terrified to turn out the lights when they close the book.

Anything less is not being good to your reader.

I have a book I'm slightly ashamed I wrote, not because the story was bad, but because there are more adverbs than should be legally allowed. The grammar and punctuation suck muddy rocks. There are even a few words spelled wrong. My editor must have been having a bad few months when my book came to his table.

When people tell me they read this book, I have to resist the urge to dig money out of my pocket and offer them a refund.

Oddly enough . . . people liked the book. No one says, "Man, you sure do use a lot of adverbs." They gush over being in love with James and how much they relate to Kit. They liked the story. They loved the characters. Even though that book has more issues than the National Geographic, readers felt like I treated them right.

This goes along with that whole door open/door closed thing from last week. Don't worry about the technical stuff. If you have technical issues, pay someone to line edit for you when you're done. But for right now . . . fall into your story. Know your characters, your storyline, and your genre.

If you know those things . . . then you can say you followed E.T.'s sage advice: "Be good."
(he'd have added the part about being good *to your readers* if Spielberg hadn't cut his lines.


Janette Rallison said...

Hmmm. This could be the start of a new saying. "Everything I know about writing I learned from E.T."

(It doesn't hurt to throw in a cute kid and make someone deathly ill at the climax. Spaceships help too. That's why I use them frequently.)

Lu Ann Brobst Staheli said...

Maybe that could be a book title, you know, like the "Tao of Pooh."

Heather B. Moore said...

Fun blog, Julie. Just think of JK's latest installment and how high the expectations were. Millions of people were ready to judge. Kind of intimidating.