Peggy Bechko: Writers Love Their Readers


by Peggy Bechko

And not surprisingly they want them to keep reading.

So what is it that might make a prized reader just stop reading, set the book aside, give up? Fantastic to hear your book kept a reader up all night, okay to know they stick in a bookmark and take a break, just awful and nightmarish to think that reader won’t pick the book up again.

So why don’t they pick it up again?

There can be many reasons, but here are a few basic ones you might consider while writing.

Is there too much description? Do you go on and long with long, flowery descriptions and narrative that just doesn’t move the story forward. The days of the writing of the classics is long past and the reader today want succinctly written scenes with few details allowing their own imaginations to take over. It’s a fine line to walk, but there you have it. Too much, too long on the description, narrative and wandering dialog and the reader is, well, bored into putting the book down.

Are your characters realistic? Are they so bland they’re boring? Do they have quirks and problems that are unique and unusual? If your characters don’t come across a real people with real problems odds are your reader is going to slap that book down and not pick it up again.

Did you hear somewhere sex sells? Offensive language gets attention? Violence rivets the eye? Well, yes, to a point. However, in general, readers don’t appreciate all that. If ‘all that’ isn’t key to a character or essential to moving a plot forward, don’t just write gratuitous sex, violence and filthy language scenes because the feeling is they’ll ‘sell’. There are moments where those things belong in a story, but make sure they do BELONG before you put any in. If it seems to your readers that you’re just waving it before their faces for shock value, odds are they’re going to put that book down. And they’ll look for your name on another book – so they don’t buy it by mistake.

Have you got firmly held beliefs? Moral codes of your own? Your own way of seeing the world?


Use them to move readers with a powerful theme, but don’t preach to them. Readers hate preachiness. If instead of being drawn in by an engrossing tale your readers feel you’re trying to force your own agenda on them, to cram a message down their throats, they’re going to turn on you.

Keep in mind not everyone shares your values and point of view. There are many world views out there. They may well be hooked by a well-written story based on a viewpoint at a one hundred and eighty degree flip from their own, but that doesn’t mean they’ll tolerate being told they have to share that perspective. Preaching is a big turn off and frequently the reason a book is cast aside. If you want to get a ‘message’ across, be more subtle. Make it into a powerful, positive theme in your book and let the readers come to their own conclusions.