Writing what readers want

Writing what readers want
The incredible adventure of meeting Karen Marie Moning

by Pauly Hart
Where Truth Matters.

I would like to share with you the story of taking my wife to see Karen Marie Moning and JR Ward in Kentucky yesterday. These women both write Supernatural Fantasy Urban Paranormal Romance Thrillers... Which is a weird thing to write but they are both on the New York Times #1 best seller list, make a lot of money so shut up about how weird that is already and read my story.

Moning's newest book, released 1/20/15
The main reason to go was to see Karen. My wife has been a follower/reader of her for ten years, so this predates our relationship by four years so I believed that since she has captured my wife's attention for this long, I had better see what it was all about.

We awoke at four in the morning, threw our stuff together and were out the door. We drove for several hours, stood outside in twenty degree weather for several hours stood in line inside of a bookstore for several hours, stood in line in a mall for several hours and finally got to see the authors. They walked the crowd, answering questions of their books, their personal lives and their paths of creativity. I asked a question of Karen about an "evil book" in the book series that she wrote and how it evolved from a plot, to a plot device to a contagonist into a very enfleshed antagonist and she answered it very well to my satisfaction. I learned more, however, by watching the crowd around her.

I was among maybe five other men in a group of five hundred women... It was a strange but a wonderful experience to feel the estrogen in the room pulse and seethe like it's own living entity. Three times during the question and answer time Karen laughed at the crowd and told them that they were a schizophrenic and fickle people because they couldn't decide what they wanted her to write about. And that's true. Different opinions are shaped not only by the genetic makeup of a person, but by their experiences that they grow up around. No author can please a crowd in it's entirety.

Karen Marie Moning - answering questions yesterday.
But what I learned from this trip was not about the authors at all. I learned about audiences and how to amuse them. First of all, your setting does not matter. I recall little Pauly, scrunched under the covers, age ten reading Frodo and Sam, or The Stainless Steel Rat, or Skeeve and Aahz and thinking how different these universes were, but because they enveloped my entire brain, I was loathe to stop reading about what would happen to them next. I was invested. It didn't matter what the adventure was, I wanted to read more. They had created in me, a return audience. I was theirs to lose really. I am not happy that any of the Twilight series was written by Stephanie Meyer, but I am happy that she at least did not write MORE of them. The last one was done so poorly that she probably would have lost a large portion of her audience with child-raping werewolves now a part of the lore. Even if the movie does well, I declare shenanigans on her entire universe.

But enough Stephanie Myer bashing. I was first talking about Tolkien and Harrison and Asprin. Reading really got my goat as a kid, not that my name was Billy, but it did help me ram home some terrible puns. What I learned from these women in the audience yesterday is that people want to read, just as I did and still do but they don't want to read boring dried up crap! They want to read:

JR Ward - prowling the audience
1) Things that are relevant
2) Things that are exciting
3) Things that are emotional
4) Things that are intimate
5) When needed, paranormal

I've asked my wife about this list and she agrees that these are the things that move her to want to read. She loves it when she can emotionally invest in a character and have her faith rest in the idea that he or she can go farther, pursue longer, save better, think quicker, overcome and achieve whatever the plot goal is using whatever plot devices are necessary. It helped me to understand this about the audience and I needed to understand that the writers actually "GET" what their readers want.

Not what they "WANT" want out of this character to fall in love with this one, or that character to not have died... But things that are in the list to continue pulling and teasing and stretching their needs, wants, and desires. When a reader picks up your book or story or essay or poem, they are hoping that the "This better be good" feeling envelops them from the very onset, grips them (or hugs them) throughout the entirety, and then gently places them back into reality when the reading is over, like a lover would place a kiss on the cheek.
My wife, meeting her writing hero.

And this is what I want to provide as a writer. Relevant. Exciting. Stuff. That just sneezes all over you with awesomeness. Like this story for example. You think it's pretty great. It's a really powerful story about how I, as a fledgling writer, went and experienced two well known and popular writers and had my world shaken and tossed upside down and I cracked open my insides and a lot of preconceptions came oozing out, but I scooped myself up, ran home and now am finding out that what was on the inside of my belief system as a writer was nothing but crap.

And so I heal and will begin to write better.