I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Friday, May 27, 2011

Disappearing Car Doors and Readers' Expectations

An article recently came into my e-mail inbox that bragged about the latest and greatest in automobile technology. I clicked on the link and watched as car doors automatically folded underneath the car so passengers could get in and out with the greatest of ease. Hooray for technology!

The only problem with that marvel of automobile science? It assumes one would always want the door to disappear and for the inside of the car to be exposed to the elements. I suppose next the brilliant minds that be will install pop-out umbrellas.

What's the point of all this?

Sometimes writers assume that just because they have the ability to write something off the wall, readers want it.

I have no doubt there are flashy people who would pay $200,000 for disappearing doors just for the bragging rights. That being said, the overwhelming majority of car shoppers spend far less money for a car with conventional door hinges. In fact, they demand it.

As writers, we need to be aware of what our readers expect to see in our books. I'm not talking about whether the bad guy dies a well-deserved, agonizing death or whether he ends up behind bars. You're that author--that's your call. But the reader does expect--and has the right to expect--certain things like:

  1. relating to what's happening in the story
  2. feeling an emotional response
  3. understanding the characters 
  4. identifying with the characters' challenges
  5. coming to some kind of closure at the end of the book--and not just because you typed "The End" after the last word in the story
Just like most car buyers all over the world, I promise you that readers won't pick up your book, flip through the pages, and expect for doors to disappear. They just want a good book that entertains them--one that takes them where they want to go in comfort.

So, if you are truly a writer--please, don't make the doors disappear!

~Reba J. Hoffman

9 comments:

  1. Reba, I really enjoyed this post; it was so practical! I appreciate how you outlined what readers have a right to expect. That can be helpful in guiding my writing. :) And, I promise--I won't let my car doors disappear. :)

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  2. Terrific post, Reebs. I'm a girl who likes her doors. Your post reminds me of an author's brand. Different authors bring different elements to the literary world. When I get to know an author through reading his or her books, I know what kind of "doors" to expect. When they stray from my expectations--when their doors disappear, I may stop reading their books.

    I know many authors who write in several genres, but their books still contain the same elements.

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  4. Disappearing doors. I learn so much from you, Reba! And not just new concepts in car design. lol Great check list for our stories. You Rock, Girl.

    Prior comment contained a typo.

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  5. Happy Friday!
    Fun post, Reebs--and I enjoyed the link to the disappearing door car!
    Appreciate your practical "don't forget the basics" approach to writing.

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  6. Reba, Fun post!

    I'm with Lisa. If an author doesn't deliver satisfying "doors" or expectations, I won't buy the next book.

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  7. I think there's a fine line between the unexpected and "disappearing doors." Thank you for pointing this out in your unique way!

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  8. Entertaining and practical, Reebs!! :) Disappearing doors...hehe...

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  9. Thanks for this reminder that *fiction* is not synonymous with *unbelievable.* We may try so hard to entertain our readers that we may lead them where they do not wish to follow!

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