Monday, December 5, 2011

Readers' Expectations - Know 'Em

When writing, have you ever considered your readers’ expectations? If you haven’t, you might want to think twice. I once watched a movie that really disappointed me: “Trial by Fire” aka “Smoke Jumpers” with Brooke Burns playing the main character. When I started watching this movie, I was hooked because of the sexual tension between firefighters Kristen and Ray. The fire burning between them was as hot as any inferno they’d fought in the line of duty. However, when the external conflict was resolved, I expected there to be an extra clip showing these two characters could now be together… or they couldn’t because of their working relationship. Yet, NOTHING was mentioned at all. The last we were shown of their potential love interest was when they went on a “date”. A fire interrupted their time together as they both rushed to the scene. The blaze was extinguished and that was that. Talk about misleading and bad writing. I’m not sure if the DVD version “Smoke Jumpers” ended this way. I saw “Trial by Fire” on TV and that’s how it played out. My expectation was for them to get together because of the sexual tension between these characters all throughout the movie.

The writer didn’t take my expectations into consideration. Why put any sexual tension into the script if the writer wasn’t planning on following through with the romance? There could’ve been plenty of conflict without the budding romance. But leaving this loose end dangling in the wind is a major no-no. Disappoint a reader, or a viewer in this case, and she won’t be back. Granted, there’s the possibility the script was cut short because of a time constraint, but then the scenes with sexual build-up should’ve been cut or changed.

Think about this example when you’re writing. Who is your audience? What will your readers expect from YOUR writing?

Lynnette Labelle


  1. I relied heavily on reader expectations when writing my second book. I listened to what they liked, didn't like, and what they wanted. I wrote what I wanted while still giving my readers what they wanted.
    Still miss the weekly puzzle...

  2. Yeah, I've been disappointed like this. Makes me want to write better, and leave a "satisfactory" ending rather than a "happy" ending.


  3. Donna: If you're writing romance, you need both kinds of endings. :)

    Alex: So far, you're the only one who seems to miss the puzzles, so I'm not sure...

    Lynnette Labelle