What do readers want?

This article is part of the Rolling Mystery Blog Tours Ink group. To read articles on this subject from other members of the group, see the list of participants and their blog addresses below.

As most writers, probably, I think about this very question a lot.  I say “probably” because I think we all have different reasons for writing. When I first started writing, I didn’t think about the reader at all. I wrote to express myself. When you write articles and books for a living, you get to express parts of yourself, but you always must keep your reader in mind. Are you writing for a group of professionals about mathematics education? Or are you writing for a person who needs escape and enjoys a good yarn?

So I’ve come up with a list of what I think the readers of my Cumberland Creek Mysteries might want. I think of my readers as intelligent, and above average in every way—except that they don’t have much time. This seems to be the modern malaise. They are busy, curious people and many things fight for their attention.

I am a new mystery author, so I may be completely wrong about all of this. If so, it’s not the first time I’ve been wrong. And it won’t be the last.

Here’s what I think MY readers are looking for:

  1. A good plot that achieves a balance wherein their intelligence isn’t insulted and they don’t have to work too hard at understanding it. (For example, who wants to stop in the middle of a novel and look up obscure words? I mean maybe a little of that is okay…)
  2. Interesting quirky characters that have to be relate-able in some way.
  3. Entertainment. Pure and simple. My readers are busy people that need a little bit of fun. They want to laugh. They want to cry, a little. They want to feel something.
  4. They want to learn a little something. Whether it’s deadly detail about poison or an interesting quilting pattern, they like to feel like they are expanding their mind in some fun way.
  5. The mystery aspect to the story has to be believable and satisfying. (See #1.) But they want some surprises, too.

The further I get into my writing career, the more respect I have for my readers. This is one of the reasons I blog and do Twitter and Facebook. I want to know who my readers are. I love a dialog with them. I’m as approachable as the next guy. C’mon in!

Here are the other writers on the blog tour today. Please stop by and read their posts.




4 thoughts on “What do readers want?

  1. Kathleen Kaska says:

    I so agree, Mollie. Our readers are so important and we should listen to what they like and don’t like. I know writers who are inflexible and refuse to consider the reader and I wonder why the author writes in the first place. Writing is like any profession, we learn and grow and learn some more.
    Great blog.


  2. Nancy Lauzon says:

    Great post, Mollie. It was the same with me when I first started writing, I did it more for myself than the reader. I hope I achieve a balance between the two. After all, you have to like what you’re writing to complete an entire novel!


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