Help the reader find what they are looking for?
It is impossible to write a story that will meet the expectations of all readers of all ages. Expectations vary as much as genre. Mystery readers look for puzzles and justice. Other readers look to fall in love again, spy on foreign powers, fly through space or run with the elves.
To play fair, make sure the essence of your book is on the cover–in the artwork and the blurb. Give the reader a chance to dive in or move on early.
As a reader, I need it to be organic
It may start with a recommendation, the book blurb or the cover, but when I read the first sentence I need to feel something–anything. Many times it’s curiosity that prompts me to read the first paragraph, and if I make it to chapter three I either feel a connection or I put the book down.
If the main character shares some of the same organic/visceral reactions or emotions with the reader, they’ll connect.
Our job as writers is to convey the emotions the human race have in common. It can be as simple as the frustration of waiting in line, or as visceral as a missing child. It’s these raw emotions that draw a reader in.
For example, everyone has been driven to frustration once in their life. Placing a character in a situation that makes them frustrated is relatable. What the reader doesn’t know is what your character is going to do about it. The reader may be surprised, disappointed or embarrassed. It doesn’t matter. What does is the fact they reacted.
If a story makes me laugh, I enjoy the characters, or like in the Harry Potter series—I love the world, I know I’ll be back for more. It might be the next chapter or the next book. Some books are a lovely place to vacation.
What do you look for in a book? Wouldn’t your reader be looking for the same thing?