What is it that makes a book satisfying for you? When you’re choosing your next read, do you look for some kind of guarantee it’s going to hit the spot?
Imagine – you’re in the zone – receptive to suggestions – you’re browsing genres – willing to take a little chance – open to new ideas. You spot an interesting cover – you read the blurb. Maybe you read the opening paragraphs, too. You’ve never heard of the author but you’re bookless and looking forward to your next read. But it’s got to be satisfying.
Chances are, what makes that book hit the spot for you won’t be the same as what makes a book satisfying for me.
We like different things, don’t we, all of us? We’re attracted by different images and colours which make us choose to investigate book titles further. We might insist that we were open to new ideas and receptive to suggestions, but we were still subconsciously bound by our preferences. Those preferences grew out of our personal experiences with books and reading. You can’t prefer something you’ve never experienced.
Let me give you an example. If you asked me six years ago if I’d read any Cornwell, Reichs, Slaughter, Gerritsen etc. I would have said, I don’t think I’d enjoy that kind of book.
I had never been tempted to try titles in that genre. They simply didn’t appeal. Then a friend came to stay and left books behind. I was bookless and read them. Now I have a collection of aforementioned authors. It turned out I enjoyed the genre after all and I’ve since broadened my reading experience to include action thrillers. Who knew I’d turn out to be Jack Reacher’s #1 fan?
But then, as I’ve said elsewhere on my website, I love variety. My bookshelves comprise an unusual mix, some might say. Authors now have a better chance of attracting me to their titles because I’ve experienced a wider range of books.
But, I’m still not too easy to please. The writing has to transport me. I have to care what happens next. Characters have to be attractive to me in some way. I must want to see them attempt to reach their goal. Or the plot has to be fascinating. I have to want to turn the page.
But is satisfying enough to aim for when we’re writing? Would I be delighted if, when I eventually have my novels on sale, reviewers vote them a satisfying read?
I don’t think I would. I guess I’m aiming for the Wow factor. I think I have to. As a novelist, I’m unpublished. It’s been hard enough to break through into magazine publication and I know that to achieve success with a debut novel, you have to come up with something really special.
My novel Trobairitz won’t please everybody. Neither will Patterns of Our Lives. They’re for different markets. You can’t please everybody. But I’d like to think I could burst the satisfaction meter for some readers.
What constitutes the difference between a satisfying read and the Wow factor for you?