Michael Shook
Aug 15 · 4 min read

Matching expectations is the rule

woman with bare feet sitting and reading on the beach
woman with bare feet sitting and reading on the beach
Image courtesy of makunin via Pixabay

Every writer who publishes wants readers to read their work. Whether that work is a novel in the real world or an online article, writers need more readers.

Of course, when you write, you do need to promote your work so that readers will have the opportunity to enjoy it, but your writing must also match a reader’s expectation. Making sure your writing is in sync with the key reason a reader found you in the first place goes a long way toward having that reader finish reading your piece.

There are many variations on reasons why a particular reader reads, but there are only a few key reasons.

Key Reasons Why Readers Read

1 Readers want to feel differently than in their everyday life

Words hold power to make people feel. Whether those words help the reader feel love, anger, excitement, happiness, pride, or any other emotion, we read to experience those feelings.

Many times a day to day life leaves little room for feeling emotion. People work in jobs where they are prohibited from expressing their feelings, no matter what those are. This practice usually comes under the guise of professionalism.

But humans are emotional beings, and at the center of our lives are our feelings. No matter what anyone says about how they make decisions, their feelings always come into play. Reading to feel emotions outside their typical experience helps people discover who they truly are.

Any writer that can provide readers with passion, joy, anger, sadness, or pride will earn the respect and admiration of their fans. Feeling emotions through reading is safe. The experience of becoming absorbed into a piece of writing and sharing the emotions found in that writing is addictive.

People crave emotions they don’t get a chance to feel every day. Readers will pursue writers who can help them feel genuine emotion in a safe way. They will want more and more from those writers. And a writer who understands the emotion their readers want and delivers that will have fans forever.

2 Readers want information

This is one of the hardest kinds of writing to create. Writing in a simple, understandable way to let people know about something is a difficult thing to do. It’s not like a conversation where you can ask the other person if they understand. All the information a person needs to know must be there in your writing.

If the right information isn’t there or it is not understandable to the reader, they are not going to be a fan.

Informational writing is an art; the writer needs to supply the expected amount of information. A scholarly journal is going to require some original research results or a reliable recap of the research. Reviews of patio furniture need less information but still must meet the reader’s expectation.

The information the writer presents must be clear, so the reader understands what the writer meant to say. No matter, if its scholarly writing or furniture reviews, the scope of information presented must be appropriate. Too much, and you risk the reader falling asleep, too little and your reputation as a writer in that field gets tarnished.

When you can provide the right information, in the appropriate amount, at the level your reader can easily understand it; you are helping your reader love your writing.

3 Readers want to be entertained

The experience of being lost in a piece of writing is unlike any other. Whether you’re writing a bodice-ripping romance novel, a humorous poem about your trip to the laundromat, or even a space opera set in a world of your own creation; there are readers for your work.

You do have to entice them to read your work, but once you do that, it is the words of your writing that keep them hooked. There are so many choices for entertainment, and reading is one that demands more attention than any of the others.

Every reader understands that they are paying you with the currency of their attention. In return for that payment, they expect the entertainment they were searching for.

If you’re a book author, people who love the entertainment your work provides will stand in line at bookstores or constantly refresh their screen at Amazon waiting for your new book to go on sale.

If you’re a Medium writer, your loyal followers will sign up to your email list, join your publication and go to your profile page every day to see if you’ve got something new for them.

But you have to deliver the goods.

That’s why it’s most natural to provide entertainment in a niche market. Once you find your sweet spot of writing and entice people to read your work, you can have a gig for life, if you want it.

Some book series in the offline world, such as Sue Grafton’s alphabet series, have had new titles added successfully for more than 35 years. Those fans are loyal to the writer and to the top quality entertainment that particular writer delivers.

Key reasons count

These keys are the biggest reasons people read. You could probably combine these or find other more detailed reasons, but most people have one of these keys in mind when they read.

When you line your writing up with your reader’s expectations and deliver emotion, information, and entertainment, you’re going to have tons of loyal fans and the opportunity to write for the rest of your life.

That’s a hard combination to beat.


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Michael Shook

Written by

Plain-spoken writer with strong opinions. Sees the world differently and writes about it that way.


Discover the best up and coming writers. You'll say you knew them when.

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