Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of reader feedback, is brought to you by mystery novelist, short story author and blogger Warren Bull.
Interview With a Reader
In New Zealand I was able to track down and speak to a member of a highly desirable and rarely interviewed class — a reader. I approached with caution so as to not frighten the woman sitting on the couch in my living room and asked what she was reading. From there I was able to skillfully deflect the conversation into what she does and does not like to read. In the interest of avoiding the paparazzi, my niece, the said reader, shall remain anonymous. No matter what you do to me I will not tell you it was Jenny I spoke with.
Speaking of mysteries she told me she does not like a book ending where there is no clear conclusion: the experience left her frustrated. She also said she does not like plot complications that seem tossed in for suspense and do not advance the story. Her example was a woman character who knew she is being stalked and who head a strange noise in a dark parking garage. The character went to investigate unarmed and without calling anyone for assistance. My reader added that she does not like plots where all the interesting characters get killed off before the end of the book. (I admitted that is a pet peeve of mine also.) She mentioned in some books the dialog seems stilted and the problems seem too trivial to warrant being in a book.
She said she did not like authors who essentially write the same book over and over again although she understood that some readers do.
On the positive side Jenny liked multiple viewpoints and books that shift back and forth from the past to the present. She said she enjoys interesting characters and did not mind if the characters sometimes do something, “stupid” and “human”, especially in a tense situation where it would be hard to think clearly.
She said she enjoys how seemingly unrelated events end up connecting elements of the plot. Along with humor, including dark humor. Jenny liked well-set-up surprises as long as there are not unbelievable cliffhangers and surprises every few pages.
She wants to like the characters and be entertained.
What do readers tell you?
That they love what I write (quite a few) or never want to read anything by me again (thankfully few). Thank you, Warren!
Warren Bull is a multiple award-winning author who has been nominated for a 2012 Derringer award. He has more than forty short stories published, the novels, ABRAHAM LINCOLN FOR THE DEFENSE, HEARTLAND and MURDER IN THE MOONLIGHT are available at http://www.warrenbull.com/kindle_editions.html and a short story collection, MURDER MANHATTAN STYLE available at http://www.warrenbull.com. He blogs at http://writerswhokill.blogspot.com on Fridays.
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.
The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with non-fiction author Kim Dalferes – the four hundred and first of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.