Though I’m always hesitant to give literary advice, I would like to make a modest request to authors of fiction. Please, give us something that’s more.
A lot of fiction is like stale cookies or mediocre pizza, satisfying to people who’ll take sugar, cheese and pepperoni in any form. I can never understand why, when it’s not required, some will read a book all the way through, then acknowledge it was terrible. Like, “That pizza was really bad.” Belch. I guess they’re hungry.
People read fiction to have an experience–thrilling or horrifying or romantic, and hopefully satisfactory. Guess what, some also read fiction to be enlightened. When I read fiction, I like to learn something.
I’m told more people read non-fiction than fiction. To them, fiction may seem frivolous, unconnected to real life ambitions and concerns.
In truth, the best fiction offers an entertaining experience along with insight, so it’s possible to learn more about ourselves and others, about events, cultures, things, other periods. Fictional characters can be inspirational and make us care more. Good fiction provokes new thoughts.
I once was a hungry bad-pizza-reader, but after a lot of years, I can’t stomach most fiction. I may be missing some decent works because I have no patience with characters who have wings or fangs; I won’t read horror or erotica, and I’m tired of the themes, characters and situations in most contemporary stories.
In my new pickiest of modes, I even tire of stories that sparkle with brilliant writing. It’s like I must have all my favorite pizza toppings, plus sauce that’s neither too sweet nor too acidic, all on extraordinary crust, the most important part.
My favorite read is a well-written, compelling story with characters who care about each other and feel real. Doesn’t sound complicated, does it? I strive for those elements in my own writing, though I know my products, like my preferences, will never satisfy everyone’s taste. Even so, we all must work to give the reader more.