As a writer you need to know why people pick up novels.
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Knowing it is important
There are many different reasons for people to read fiction. While one person might be looking for a fun and entertaining story, another one might pick up an inspirational life story. Yet others might be driven to more philosophical novels in the search for answers or knowledge.
Knowing the various reasons why people read, helps us to find out what they respond to emotionally. It is invaluable for a writer. Without knowing what moves your readers or your potential audience, your stories might miss its mark completely.
You have to remember: The goal of fiction is to evoke emotions in people and to make them feel strongly.
Why do you read?
Just think back at the last novels you read. Did you read all of them solely for entertainment? Or did you pick up some for other reasons as well?
Sure, to be entertained is one of the most common reasons for people to read, but there are often one or more reasons. Often we strive to experience certain things, to be provoked or questioned or to simple learn a new thing or two.
It is what makes great fiction so enjoyable. It is entertaining, yet has much more to offer to its readers.
The objective of novels
We can also look at it from the perspective of the writer. Is the objective of all novels to be entertaining? Think about Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, or for example Ulysses by James Joyce. Was their reason for writing these books to entertain?
Writers have various objectives when they set out to write a novel, same as readers have various reasons for reading.
If you want to write a specific novel, it might not be a bad idea to think about what people are going to respond to the most. Knowing that helps you to convey your thoughts and ideas in the best ways possible.
The 5 Reasons
1. Pure entertainment
This is the most common reason for people to pick up fiction. It means they are looking to read something that is fun, exciting and that makes them feel about the characters.
People often pick up books to experience things.
Many people read fiction because they want to experience things like fear and tension, but without being in any real danger. They want feel alive, get a kick and live through the adventures of the characters.
Readers can also be transported to different places, times and even different worlds and experience these places as if they were real.
Fiction can also give readers knowledge, both about places, people, customs and culture, but also about various other fields.
It can help people to find out who they are and what they believe in by confronting them with controversial topics. At times people are also looking for answers to many of the mysteries of life.
4. Inspiration and motivation
People often look for inspirational or motivational stories, for example those that show courage or meaningfulness. These stories can set examples. They can help people to find the strength and the courage to finally change their lives, at times in small, at others in big ways.
5. Finding beauty
Sometimes people hope to find beauty in fictional novels. First of all there is the beauty of language and rhythm. The enjoyment of an almost perfect writing style. It goes deeper than that though. At times novels can help us feel alive again. They can transport us to the days of our childhood and can show us just how beautiful life is. Through fiction people can and want to rediscover those feelings and they want to find beauty in the world again.
These five reasons are true for many if not all readers in one way or another. As a writer you should remember them and you should take a look at your general audience. It is important to identify why people are reading. If your audience reads mainly for entertainment, it might not be the best idea to write a deeper, thought provoking novel. The same is true the other way around.
It can help to improve your fiction to find the right outset.