Some people wonder why genre readers want to read the same thing over and over. Well, they don’t read the same thing all the time, and they have expectations. A primary expectation?
A Happily Ever After ending.
If you enjoy perusing book reviews on Amazon, you’ll find that many readers (primarily outside of genres, though genre fiction can have the first three faults as well), express similar complaints:
- The book was boring and they didn’t finish it.
- The plot was too convoluted.
- They didn’t like any of the characters.
- They didn’t like the ending.
When you’re not writing genre fiction (romance, mystery, etc.) you aren’t confined to leaving your main characters happy. In fact, I recently read a book where one of the two main characters was fatally shot near the end of the story. I found this shocking since nothing, to my mind, led the reader to think the author planned to kill a protagonist. But on the other hand, the author hadn’t done much to make me like the protagonist, so I really didn’t care when he died, although I didn’t think he deserved to die. Mission accomplished?
In contrast, the genre reader wants the ending to be happy for everyone, with the possible exception of a clear villain. Even then, they may want to see the villain reform and experience his own happy ending.
In keeping with the expectation of a happy ending, the author needs to make the reader love the characters. On or near page one, the heroine especially needs to touch the reader’s feelings. The reader wants the hero and heroine to deserve their happy ending. Readers won’t root for a hateful, deceitful, conniving protagonist. And therein lies the connection between characterization and a happy ending.
What about plot? Yes, plot matters. The plot must live up to the confines of the genre, but be fresh. This is a tall order, but not impossible for the creative writer. Writers uncertain about genre rules should read as many books in the genre as needed until an “Aha!” moment strikes. Only then can the author understand the genre reader’s expectations about plot well enough to write a marketable book.
And of course, you’re never boring!
What is your favorite genre and why?
What is your favorite book in any genre?