How do writers capture, and maintain, their readers interests?

I read a lot. I suppose most of us who write, or like to write, do the same.

Here’s a thought about that:

Not all reading material we pick up we end up enjoying.

Am I right?

I have come across quite a few blog posts in recent days on this topic. It preoccupies me, but not in the way you might expect. There are always more books you can get your hands on, more reading material. These days, fresh topics are literally within reach of the palm of your hand. A click away.

But does this mean you always enjoy reading what you picked? People like Deb and LA talk about this in their blogs, as do many others.

I think about reading in conjunction with writing. Often, reading something is what inspires me to write something.

But I want to dig a little deeper:

I remember when all the fuss about the trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey occurred. I didn’t jump on that bandwagon immediately but I was a little curious. So I went to my library app and put the first book on hold.

I had a long line of wanna-be readers ahead of me.

I didn’t care. I had other stuff to read.

Then one day the book became available and I downloaded it and started to read it.

I finished it in about the same amount of time I would have finished any other book. Meaning, I read it normally like I do most books. For me to be so captivated by a book that I can’t put it down takes a special something, and this book…it didn’t have that special something.

(Example: Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld had me so obsessed, I couldn’t put it down until I finished it. Then, it felt like I had a hangover for days after.)

The first book of the Fifty Shades was quite readable and interesting to me in a foreign sort of way. I say foreign because I live under a rock and I don’t know a lot about some of the topics this author addressed in her story.

Still, I learned a few things which kept me reading. The plot itself also kept me relatively interested, although it wasn’t the plot so much that kept my interest piqued. The plot simply propelled me forward, but not with the kind of edge of my seat urgency like Sisterland or something like that did.

At the end of the book however, I had to make a choice: do I want to read the next two books? Is the story interesting enough to want to know what happens next?

I put the other two books on hold in my app and went about my life.

I almost forgot about the story.

But of course the next book came due eventually and I downloaded it on my phone and then…

I didn’t start reading it.

If I remember correctly, it took me several days to actually start book two. When I did, I managed to enjoy it but to be quite honest, I was sort of meh about it.

I did finish book two. It was more of a curiosity factor about the red room than the development of the relationship between the protagonist and her new lover. The plot itself wasn’t what kept me interested. I assumed right from the start that certain things were going to transpire with the characters, and they did. I didn’t have to keep reading to validate my assumptions about the plot.

What kept me reading was my curiosity about the BDSM and related topics. I wanted to understand the relationship between pain and arousal and why this is a thing for some people. These topics were unfamiliar to me and the way the author managed to incorporate them into her story was intriguing to me from a writer’s perspective. So I kept reading because I wanted to know more about things I knew little, or nothing about.

Don’t ask me what I did with the third and final book…I remember starting it and feeling somewhat irritated by the protagonist character development, but I doubt I finished it. Honestly I don’t remember if I had or not. I simply lost interest.

Looking back at that experience now, as a writer and blogger, I wonder about this reading path I was on. How did this author, E.L. James, manage to lose her reader (me)  partway through her story? Especially given the rounding success of her books world wide.

It’s an interesting question, isn’t it.

What do you think? Do you find you write better stories, or blog posts, after you read other stories or blog posts? Where do you take your inspiration from to write?

 

17 thoughts on “How do writers capture, and maintain, their readers interests?

  1. I feel your pain! I recently finished reading An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (a 2018 Oprah’s Book Club Selection) and rated it 3/5 stars due to typos, questionable formatting, and the lack of authenticity when it came to character dialogue. I was excited to read it since it has Oprah’s stamp of approval. Luckily, I ready Storm (Book Market Edition) by Eric Jerome Dickey right after and thank Buddha it was 5/5 stars worthy. Though I’m an indie author myself, I’m tempted to shy away from indie works due to poor formatting and/or typos. It’s sad to see a decent story implode on itself due to those factors.

    Moving right along, here are my responses to your other questions:
    Q: Do you find you write better stories, or blog posts, after you read other stories or blog posts?
    A: I honestly don’t think about it too much, and try to focus more on competing against myself, seeing if I can create something better than my previous content. I will confess that reading “bad” writing does inspire me to not make the same mistakes I loathe seeing other writers make.

    Q: Where do you take your inspiration from to write?
    A: From anyone or anything that seems interesting to me. For instance, I’ll be writing a flash fiction piece for my next blog post that’s based entirely on a true situation one of my dear comrades experienced recently at her new workplace. It tickled my funny bone.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was a fascinating post. First off I think it’s hard to write a series. Movies and books rarely turn out a part 2 that equals the success of the first one. There is no shock. We know these people. The surprise isn’t there.

    As a writer I enjoy creating characters people can relate to. I came from a middle class home. So it comes natural for me to write about the average guy and girl. I came from a small town. We all knew each others business and so I inject that part into my stories too.

    I love broken characters and I especially love to place them in situations that bring out the best in them. If a reader can see themselves in the characters I create I have accomplished my task.

    As for blog posts: My books do not come from them but my respect and admiration to the person who created them does.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love this response. 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to comment. I agree too with what you’re saying about the character development and relating to the reader. This is key, I think.

      Like

  3. It’s certainly beneficial to learn something every day. I would like to read more often, particularly blogs, but life events seem to hinder the effort daily. We continue pressing on though – and learn something new each time. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I found I was drawn in enough to read your entire post – so I was interested in what you had to say. (As per usual, when I get around to stopping by, ‘cuz you know there’s life and all that other stuff keeping me busy at times, including Instagram). I do think as writers (bloggers) we do feed off of each other in a way – it’s human nature to do so. I do think what I’m reading effects how I write too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I didn’t even finish the first 50 shades book – I remember skimming the first few chapters, thinking “this is really a bit ridiculous” – and then hitting the sex scenes and thinking “is this really what all the fuss is about?”… I got bored with it, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You now it’s funny even though I’ve had the same sentiment with other series or singles, oddly I never thought about it as a writer. I mostly blog now and I think about it in the sense of length and format but if I’m fired up about something I just assume the reader will be too. It’s a poor assumption on my part.
    What used to catch my interest were books I could escape in but as I grew older self-help books came into play and biographies. There’s something thrilling about the sheer honesty or the rags to riches stories that come with biographies. Self-help books are a love-hate relationship. They usually contain some useful information but I am picky about which ones I choose now. Some are more of a general assault on my esteem rather than helpful.
    Thanks for the post. It’s thought-provoking.

    Like

    1. I too like biographies in particular. The first one I ever read that made a huge impact on me was Carol Burnett. 🙂 I think I read it back in high school and I still, to this day, remember it fondly.

      Thank you for your comment

      Like

  7. I think good writing inspires me. I think sometimes an idea is so interesting that you can’t help but get caught up in it. A few weeks ago tj wrote about ratings, then I piggybacked on it and I was totally energized by the post. The exchange of ideas is incredible. And sometimes I read a book so ridiculous I must critique it. FYI…I didn’t read 50 shades

    Liked by 1 person

  8. oh I did get through the first book of Fifty shades but barely …I just couldn’t get into it …oh I but wasn’t happening .hmm Sister land I just added that to my summer reading list I’m going to look it up after I catch up pn blogs and possibly post myself.

    Liked by 1 person

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