If you read fiction (and please don't tell me if you don't because... I'm not sure we can be friends) why do you read it? What do you want out of the story when you open that new book?
I was thinking about this the other day as I ran. (And please understand when I say "the other day" that is a generalization because it has lo been many days since I have run, thanks to all the rain. I hear confession is good for the soul. Hopefully by the time you read this I will have been to that new gym.)
Back to "the other day" when I was running. And thinking. I was thinking about some of the comments I've gotten on my new novel The Wishing Tree. And how some people love my "lighter" books, books that are more romantic and dreamy. And some really like the ones where I dig in and really examine issues.
And I thought about how some people want a window when they read-- a way of looking at the world beyond. And some want a mirror-- they want to see themselves and the people they love, maybe in a new way or in a way that helps them think differently. There really does seem to be a dividing line among readers as far as what they look for in stories. The window people would tell you they just wanted to be entertained and transported. The mirror people would tell you they want to learn something about the human experience; they want to be challenged
And as I ran (if memory serves), I thought about how the best writing is the kind that is both window and mirror. The kind that shows you a world beyond but also makes you look inside yourself. Maybe that's what all writers should be aiming for. Maybe it's the ones who manage it who become the bestsellers, meeting both types of readers right where they are, enticing them with one, but surprising them with the other. And showing them the value in both.