Have you ever given any thought to what it takes for you to read a book to its finish? Interesting subject. Intriguing plot. Action that doesn’t bore you. Maybe for some romance. Others mystery. But there’s one thing you may not have considered. Trust. It takes trust in the author for a reader to complete a book. The beginning of a book hints at certain notions that we trust will play out and tie into the story one way or another. If something seems odd or stands out, we trust that the author will bring to fruition its purpose before the ending. If a criminal has a gun, we expect it to be used. If a lover has a secret, we expect it to be revealed. If the hero has a special talent, we expect it to be helpful.
As a reader, I don’t sit down with such a critical eye. I read for pleasure and hope the story will take me away to another time and place. I hope that I will get swept along with the character and experience their ups and downs, their emotional journey, and their victory or defeat. My favorite books are the ones where I can’t wait to find out what happens but am also so disappointed when they are over and I have to leave my new fictional friends for the reality of the world.
As an author, I have to remember to take this into account and be careful of the plantings I place early on. If I focus on it, my readers will expect it to be important later. If I glaze over something then use it as a crucial moment later, readers may be disappointed. I had a critiquer who questioned the relevance of all my early placements of key elements. He questioned why on earth someone would say or do or possess such a thing. And as a critiquer, he was doing his job. But it was hard for me not to shout, “Just wait! You’ll see why this is so important later on.”
It has become harder to read and simply enjoy a story of late. Since I started studying the mechanics of writing itself, I find it hard to turn off the editor/critiquer in my mind and relish a story. That said, I’m getting pickier about what I read. I used to find the stamina to finish any book, no matter how much the beginning caught my attention or not. I trusted the author to lead me somewhere satisfying. Now, though, I am putting down more and more books and searching for the ones that sweep me away.
That is my goal as an author. To create stories that a reader will pick up and never want to put down. Characters that are so life-like they leap off the pages and dive into the heart of a reader. Through prayer and continued studying, I hope to accomplish this goal with each manuscript I write.
Have you found a book that grabbed you from the first page, so much so that you were willing to trust the author to take you on that satisfying journey? Did you realize it took trust to read? I’d love to hear your comments!