Sunday, April 18, 2021

What Readers Want


What do readers really want?

This was the question I threw out during a online event on the Grinders FaceBook page. I received a lot of wonderful, thoughtful, and yes, frankly, expected answers. And then my reader friend Karan Kapszukiewicz (you might recognize her from the Art of Murder series! :-D) posted this--and because it resonated so much, and I don't want to forget it--because this is exactly what I look for too!-- I'm posting it here.

I read your question yesterday, but really had to think about the answer. I think I know what I want more than what I don't want. As crazy as this sounds, I think I want more coda-like moments within a story. 😃

When I think back to the scenes that stick with me...scenes I can play through in my mind, sometimes years later, they had little to do, specifically, with sex...or murder, or even the clever plot twists. What I'm looking for are moments in the life of a character that make them come alive to me. In, So This Is Christmas, for instance, when thinking of memorable scenes, I picture Adrien, kneeling in the snow next to a dying man, trying to convince him to hang on just a little longer, and Adrien bonding with Jake's dad over Peggy Lee. I think of Jake trying to get the whole, 'ring thing,' right. I think of Max tracing Sebastian’s back where, 'his wings used to be,' in Come Unto These Yellow Sands. Those scenes didn't necessarily move the story along or drop clues or solve any mysteries. They just gave me a glimpse of the human being behind the story. That's what I need in a good book. That connection makes the sex scenes...any sex scenes... work for me. It makes me take one more leap of faith to follow the plot, no matter how winding it might become. 

I'm invested. I care because these characters are real to me.


  1. One of the moments I think about often from the AE series is when Adrien orders something and when it arrives, he doesn’t care for the sauce. Without him having to say anything, Jake immediately picks up on this and switches plates with him so Adrien can have his burger instead. Because Jake knows him. Because he wants Adrien to eat and take care of himself. Because he’ll eat fish with a too-sweet sauce so that Adrien is happy. And Adrien doesn’t notice because his history with Jake makes him miss signs that show how much Jake truly cares about him.

    And it happens in about two sentences and you draw almost no attention to it. As a reader, I live for that kind of thing the same way I do big emotional confessions.

    1. EXACTLY. That scene is so subtle but says everything Adrien needs to know. It's one that I think of often.

  2. Yes! This, so much. It's those scenes, scenes that some people skim over or view as throwaway or 'filler,' that I view as mortar holding together the building blocks of these characters we've come to hold so dear.

  3. I didn't know it, but reading this that's exactly how feel, too. So thank you Karan for voicing my feelings. Anke

  4. So true! I fully agree with this reasoning of the heart.

  5. Yes! I agree with this! This are the moments that make a good story a great story. This is what makes me fall in love with a character and their story.

  6. 100% agree with Karan. If the characters don't come off as "real" then I quickly lose interest. And what is more "real" than everyday experiences or ordinary events.
    While it Seems like an easy thing to write/create... based on all the awful books/characters I've read, not so much. Which is why your books remain in memory and are OFTEN reread. rdafan7