What's the main reason why readers fall in love with a book?
her post here at Writer Unboxed, lists five reasons why readers love a story, and why (thanks to the dopamine buzz they get from it) reading a good book often feels exactly like falling in love.
But what really jumped out at me about this post, is she says it's more than great characters, a good plot, or a vivid writing style; what readers love about a book is the vicarious experience. Reading about someone else (and putting ourselves in there right along with them) as they go through an experience, even if we've never been through it ourselves.
That is so true! At least to me. I love to "experience" situations or places that I haven't in real life. It broadens my life; it reminds me of the quote that through reading we don't get to live just one life, we get to live many lives.
In my own writing it's the same, it's experiences that I think are fascinating (like my current book which starts out in a regular American high school but ends up traveling through space) or another story I've written that goes back in time.
But I think we also crave vicarious experiences for other reasons. Most stories include a lot of bad, even terrible things happening... like failed relationships, betrayal, getting fired, losing a loved one, etc. Part of the vicarious experience here is going through these struggles with the character and seeing them (hopefully) find their way through to a happier, or a least a wiser, ending (personally, I love a happy ending that is just a touch bittersweet, too, because that's closer to real life).
If you are currently going through a bad time or a huge disappointment (and I confess that's where my family is at right now), part of the enthralling vicarious experience in a book is that if the main character can make it through their bad times, well maybe there is some hope I will too.
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