6 False Assumptions About Readers

#1 Readers care about your characters by default

For a reader to invest in your protagonist takes time. Don’t expect much of an emotional response in the first chapters of your book. Establishing that connection between the reader and the character requires practice and effort.

#2 Readers actually read long description chunks

I’m a reader as well as a writer. I skip those pages of description, especially if it’s just linear location description (ehem, Tolkien). In all honesty, unless it’s super relevant to the story, I probably don’t care too much what colors the drapes are. Should you avoid all description? No, of course not. It can be relevant and it can be interesting. But don’t assume readers pay attention to all of it.

#3 Readers need constant reminders

Readers have better memory than we often give them credit for. If you slipped in hints about a plot twist, or foreshadowing, or anything of the sort, you probably don’t have to keep bringing it up to make sure readers haven’t forgotten.

#4 Readers won’t pick up on subtleties

Similar to #3. Readers are smart. They’ll catch nonverbals, hints, and between-the-lines suggestions. To state everything in an obvious way is to dumb down your story. Don’t give in to the I have to make this super-clear, otherwise they won’t catch on urge.

#5 Readers read at the same speed you write

Duh. It’s not hard to figure out, but I often forget. It’s important to not make this assumption without realizing it in terms of pacing. What feels like a super long chapter to you as the writer may only take a few minutes to read.

#6 Readers need attractive protagonists

I know I’ve talked about this before, but it still irks me. Authors and cover artists, I’m begging you to listen: if you rely on attractive bodies and front-cover models to sell your story, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG. Please, please, please stop! Readers should invest in real, human characters regardless of physical appearance. Don’t assume hot protagonist = happy reader!

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