The Author’s Promise – two things every writer should do


‘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

Image by Dixie Leota

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: 

  1. The emotional – you will provide an entertaining, inspiring story for your reader
  2. 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.

 by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Pinterest,  Facebook,  Google+,  Tumblr  and Twitter. 

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write – Write to communicate

This article has 0 comments

  1. Daniela Pesconi-Arthur

    Hi Amanda! What a brilliant post! I sometimes struggle a bit when writing a story… I usually think that if I’m being entertained by my own story there must be something wrong with it… 😛 I love your “Author’s promise” and also Donna Tart’s quote! Just brilliant! 🙂

    Dani.

  2. Writers Write

    Thank you so much, Dani.

  3. e a lake

    Great post! Thanks Amanda. lake

  4. Alex

    A very apt description of the idea of leaving things to the reader’s intellect and imagination. I totally agree with you, doing otherwise is an insult.

  5. Max Everhart

    Incredibly well-said. I also hate it when a writer is didactic or obviously has some kind of personal axe to grind. What you said about letting the reader make his or her own conclusions from the story brings to mind Hemingway’s iceberg theory: only one tenth of an iceberg can actually be seen; the rest lies below the surface. That is the way it should be with good writing.

  6. Summer

    Thanks so much for this! I love simple yet poignant advice that I can actually apply to my life and writing.

  7. Romeo

    Writing has been my topmost desire even when my nerves were young. How i wish i could join the writers write classes to learn more. God bless you for your informartive group.

  8. Writers Write

    Thank you for the feedback, Romeo.

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