'The first duty of the novelist is to entertain. It is a moral duty. People who read your books are sick, sad, travelling, in the hospital waiting room while someone is dying. Books are written by the alone for the alone.' ~Donna Tartt
I have read thousands of books and reviewed a lot them - 800 according to my Goodreads profile. Sometimes, I finish a book, and I think, ‘Wow! I loved that. I wonder what else the author’s written.’ Sometimes, I finish a book, and toss it aside with great force, and sometimes, I discard it without a second thought.
I have spent hours thinking about what makes me turn the page, pushing sleep away, determined to finish the story. I have spent just as much time thinking about what makes me want to throw the book away so that nobody else has to go through the literary torture I endured.
I believe it’s quite simple. I think I want to be entertained, and I want to learn something. I do not want to endure a lecture. Show me the story and let me come to my own conclusions. I do not want my intelligence insulted with contrived literary manipulations, and obscure, incoherent writing. I am your reader, not your therapist. I also do not want to get lost in your unplotted stream of consciousness. I am not your editor.
Sometimes, magic happens and writers are able to produce that special something, that novel effect. Those are the books I will keep on my bookshelf and never forget. I know most books don’t fall into this category and don’t expect them to. I do expect to feel as if I haven’t wasted my time.
In the end, I think we’ve summed it up perfectly on our Writers Write – how to write a book - course. We offer aspiring authors this advice. We suggest writers make this promise to their readers, and try to keep it.
The Author’s Promise
‘I, the author, undertake to fulfil your expectations on both an emotional and intellectual level. I will begin with this promise and I will try to overcome all obstacles in a satisfying, meaningful way through the middle of my book until I can discharge my side of the contract. I guarantee that in the end you will have either gained new insights, have your dreams confirmed or spent a thrilling vicarious journey with my characters.’
As a writer, you enter into an agreement on two levels:
- The emotional – you will provide an entertaining, inspiring story for your reader
- The intellectual – you will give your reader a new insight and a new outlook and takes him on a journey to another world, be it internal or external
If I have been entertained, informed, and inspired, I am a happy reader who will gladly spend money on your next book.
If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg.
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