I think sometimes as writers we forget about our own preferences as readers. How many of us writers would be willing to pick up (even for free) a book or story if the first few sentences don’t grab us? Read on for more about contracts between readers and writers and for the lively discussion.
When I took a graduate class called “Writing the Novel” a few years ago, I learned two very important things. First, if you tell a writer that her work in progress is a romance novel when she thinks she’s writing literary fiction, be prepared to see a chair fly across the room. Second, there’s something called “The Contract with the Reader.” Let’s forget about throwing chairs for a while and focus on the contract, which was something I had never heard of before.
Let’s pretend you’re in a bar and a guy sitting to your left says, “You want to hear a story?” Of course you don’t, but you say, “Sure. Thrill me.” He knows sarcasm, so he says, “Tell you what. If I give you a four-sentence setup, and you agree that you’re interested in hearing the rest, then you owe me a beer. How’s that?” So of course…
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