I’ve always maintained that the reader brings as much to the reading experience as a writer. I bring my expectations, history, and prejudices with me when I start a book. Who I am is as important as what the writer has written in the final decision whether a book is considered bad, good, or great.
Case in point: I read a guest blog that led me to the writer’s books on Amazon. I purchased one of her books. I started reading and I realized I had a problem.
I couldn’t stand her heroine.
The heroine was an Air Force brat who’d moved a lot. (That was me: 30 states and 12 foreign countries. I moved 62 times before I hit college.) The heroine decided she was going to put down roots and wasn’t going to move again. (Good luck with that decision. I’ve tried it, but it didn’t work so well.) Then her fiance announced that he had gotten a job in another state and she was going to have to move.
This is where the author totally lost me and there was NO way she could have gotten me back.
The heroine became a whiny, self-absorbed wussy wimp because she just, oh, no, couldn’t move again. No. My God, no. Moving again? Oh, life had just become a tragedy.
Now someone without my history might have empathized with the poor heroine, but one of the things I’ve learned about being an Air Force brat is to roll with the punches. Suck it up and do it. Moving? No big deal. I immediately lost any connection with the heroine and that’s the kiss of death. When a reader can’t connect with your characters, the book is doomed.
The book was beautifully written. The author’s voice was lovely. She was evidently very talented, but because of MY history and MY life experiences, the book was a failure.
I think this happens a lot, and it’s the one thing a writer can’t fix.