February 13, 2024

I just finished reading a book that failed to uphold the promise it made to me as a reader in the opening pages. Not only that, it failed to deliver what I consider a crucial experience in storytelling.

The characters didn’t earn their happy ending.

As writers, we often talk about what promise our first line and our first page make to the reader. What tone have we set? Is this going to be a funny book? A book filled with despair?

Is there a hint at the type of conflict to come? Lots of external conflict with fights and chases? Or is the focus on the internal conflict and the character facing their inner demons?

And, for me, I’m always looking for a hint that the character is going to be challenged. That they’ll undergo growth by the end of the book. Characters who overcome obstacles to achieve growth before obtaining their goal are the ones I return to time and time again.

This book made a strong promise to the reader that was not fulfilled. While I still enjoyed the book, it left me dissatisfied on many levels. Particularly since I came into this book with expectations from both other books in the series and previous books the author has written.

So, not the fantastic reading experience I’d been hoping for. But it was a good reminder to take care in my own writing to fulfill the promises I make to my readers.

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