This post was written in response to Linda Hill’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday
On this occasion, Linda’s asked us to let our minds flow on the words expect and unexpected.
I believe these two words describe exactly what readers are looking for, and what authors try their best to incorporate into their writing.
Readers expect to be told a story. Sounds like a simple requirement, and it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for authors to comply! These stories transmit cultural values, and collective or singular experiences, which will ultimately entertain readers.
Readers have many diverse expectations when they read a novel, but there are three elements all readers expect to find in any type of novel, namely, setting, characters and plot.
The story must take place somewhere and sometime, there must be some people involved, and something must happen as the story unfolds.
Authors must make sure they fulfil their readers expectations, but, in order to make the reading experience worthwhile, they must also add unexpected aspects. Twists and turns in the plot, changes in location or time, unexpected reactions in the characters, or new characters to shake the story line.
Readers expect to find settings, characters, and plots in their novels, but they also crave for the unexpected. The unexpected will keep them reading and will make the experience more pleasurable.
If they are reading a romance, for example, they will expect a happy ending, but they want some unexpected events and turns along the way to keep them interested in the final outcome.
If they are reading crime fiction, they will expect the solution at the end, and the more unexpected it is, the more satisfied they will be.
If it is literary fiction they are reading, they may expect a partially unhappy ending, but they will want to discover and be surprised about how or why things do not work out.
The challenge writers face is combining the expected features in a novel with unexpected factors to make the reading experience worthwhile.
When you write a trilogy, as I am writing, readers expect the ending to books one and two to be inconclusive, but they also expect a happy, or at least more satisfactory ending to book three. It is challenging to strike a balance between the expected and the unexpected continuously for over 1,200 pages! It is a bumpy ride for both writers and readers. I am having fun, and I hope my readers are too!
If you are a reader, which unexpected aspects of the novels you read do you look forward to in a novel?
If you are a writer as well as a reader, how to you include the unexpected in your novels?
If you’d like to read other reflections on these words or take part, follow this link!