It is the perennial question for authors, editors, agents, booksellers and librarians. What do readers want? What are the elements of a satisfying read?
I am a lucky member of a middle school book club. I joined this book club with my son when he was in fifth grade, and he has since decided being in a book club is not something that interests him anymore. (Killing me softly, these boys of mine who don’t read enough.)
Lucky for me, there are eager readers in this bunch who allow me to stay without my child in tow. As an author for the young adult and middle grade audiences, I feel privileged to hear what they have to say about what they are reading.
Tonight, I heard these young readers appreciate neat storylines that tie up at the end of a book. Quiet stories “where nobody dies” are sought out by some. Surprising news is that these particular young readers do not like character growth in minor characters. In one case, the mother in the story gives up her obsession with horoscopes, realizing she cannot predict her life from those words on a page. The young reader told me she didn’t like it when the mother gave up her horoscopes, because that was something that made her love the character.
The idea that not all characters need to change is new to me, and I appreciate this input from readers. Most of the advice I hear is from professionals ensconced in the business or writers who broke in or hope to break in. I enjoy the fresh look of a reader looking at the genre for the first time.
I can’t wait for this group to get to YA novels. I hope they don’t kick me out before we get to Cinder.