My 2 Cents: Reader Bias and Emotion
How much does our emotions and current state of mind affect how we feel about a story, what we put into our stories and our reviews. Sometimes when starting a book, it grabs me from the first line and I am truly invested until the end. Other times it takes me chapters into the book before I am vested in the characters and stories. Sometimes I think it’s me. Maybe I don’t feel good, or something is bothering me and I don’t connect with a character or the voice of the story. But I feel badly sometimes because it’s no fault of the author, it’s me so I continue reading.
Will a great book break through your personal fog regardless of how you are feeling if it is to be considered a great book, or do you miss out on a good story because of your state of mind. For instance, When I read Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh I was hooked from the first line. I mean couldn’t put it down, loved it so much I re-read it. But when I read Visions of Heat by Ms. Singh the second psy/changeling novel it rubbed me the wrong way at the beginning. I plowed through it because I liked the premise of the story and I enjoyed Ms. Singh’s writing and I’m happy I did because it got good.
How about small biases to certain types of characters. Does that affect how much you like or dislike a book. What if in high school the popular prom queen stole your high school crush from under your nose, how likely are you to like a book about an angsty popular, thin, beautiful prom queen who is having issues. How likely are you to embrace her story?
Plus, a story that was great, wonderful, life-changing at 17 may feel different if read at 39.
What can writers do if anything to overcome reader bias and or emotion?
I think, nothing. As the saying goes, you can’t please all of the people all the time. A readers emotion can be a good thing or a bad thing. A book might be terrible but it may grab the reader because of personal and emotional feelings at the time they read the book. Or a book might be great but rubs the reader the wrong way because of their personal bias.
I say write your story. Write what you feel and how you feel. I Try not to write for a specific audience because you never know what your audience will feel when reading. I think good books can break through the fog of reader bias and emotion.