As you may have guessed, I am a writer. I suppose it must be pretty obvious from my post on The Writing Process. How else would I be able to describe it so PERFECTLY?
There are many challenges a writer faces throughout their writing life. Writer’s block, feelings that your work is garbage, loss of contact with your characters, mutiny by your characters, writer’s block, feelings that you are a wilted cabbage, disappearance of characters, unintended death of characters, and, of course, writer’s block.
But there is one challenge whose shadow looms over the writer for the entirety of the process until the moment when it must finally be faced.
Reader’s aren’t all bad. In fact, if all goes well, they can bring feelings of great joy and pride to the writer.
But that’s a big ‘if.’ A monumental ‘if.’ A catastrophic ‘if.’
I do let people read my writing because that’s just what you’ve go to do at some point if you aspire to be one of these “writer” things. But if someone is going to read something there are a few RULES.
Here are my 5 Biggest Writer Pet Peeves (When it Comes to Readers)
1. Other People Talking While the Reader is Reading
If you have to have a conversation, you have the whole rest of the planet at your disposal. If you stay in this room you will not speak on PAIN OF DEATH. Personally, I hardly breathe, lest I distract them and somehow detract from the story.
2. The Reader Talking While They are Reading
I mean- unless it’s to say, “AHHHHH!!! I love this character SO MUCH. They are my new favorite and I will love them FOREVER.” or something along those lines. That’s totally fine with me.
But if you’re reading about my dear sweet character’s in anguish and suffering (because let’s be real; all of my characters spend most of their time in anguish and suffering), and you stop to interject in the conversation (that is going on in the same room, BREAKING THE FIRST RULE), “No, that’s not right. We had our dandelion tea party on Wednesday, not Tuesday,” this tells me two things. 1) You haven’t been paying full attention to the story because you’re really listening to the conversation and therefore, 2) you care more about your dandelion tea party than you do about my character who just got their arm bitten off by a rabid llama.
Well FINE then. I don’t care.
I’ll just go throw my book off a bridge. Maybe it will make better fish food than reading material.
3. The Reader Listening to Music While Reading
Sometimes this is okay. Like when I wrote a short story literally listening to “Time” on a loop. Whenever someone reads that I’m like, “QUICK! TURN ON TIME!”
But if they are reading a death scene and listening to peppy techno… the scene is probably not coming across as I envisioned it.
4. When the Reader Stops in the Middle of Reading to go do Something
…Is taking out the trash really more important than fiction?
I DON’T THINK SO.
The reader is in the middle of the most important, suspenseful, emotional part of the story and…. they suddenly just get up and start meandering around the kitchen for a snack or they decide to put in a load of laundry.
This is when I decide from now on I will lock my readers in a small, empty room with nothing but the story and not let them out until they finish. (Also, if the reader is athletic I will chain them to a chair so they can’t spontaneously start doing jumping jacks or something.)
5. When the Reader Doesn’t Say Anything When They Finish
Silence is TERRIBLE. Did you like it? Are you in shock? Do you hate it? Do you hate ME?!?
Even worse is when they promptly MOVE ON to the next subject.
“Well, got that done. What’s for dinner?”
Gloom and despair, that’s what. That’s what I’M having. But if you want to order yourself a pizza, that’s fine with me. Since your life is so jolly carefree and happy.
PLEASE. Tell me what you THINK.
But nothing terrible and soul crushing please. I am liable to shatter into a million pieces under such words.
Tell me it’s beautiful and hilarious and profound and my characters will live in your heart forever.
But also be honest.
And remember, if you say anything too harsh, I will be scarred for life.
But no pressure.