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02 March 2011

What Makes a Reader Care?

Click here to read this week's excerpts.

Unpublished is a State of Mind

Here in Clash of the Titles World we believe in you. We are authors in various stages of publication ourselves. We believe in the process of creating a gripping read, getting it published and introducing it to readers.

Although I'm multi-published, I still get turned down quite a bit. I get turned down because I keep submitting, and yes it's disappointing when I get that note that says, "Hmm, just didn't grab me," but that's what I have to do order to chance an acceptance.

I learn.

Why didn't the story grab the editor? What is he or she looking for? Usually the answer has something to do with "Make Me Care."

What makes us care? And the most important answer is: Creating that Intense Moment of no return – the one that makes you turn the page.

I tend to start out slow and build up to a crescendo of incidents. It might work for opening credits of a movie, but not with readers who aren't on a date in a dark theater. It's easier to put a book down than get up and leave a movie. So, multiple comments from publishers, agents, and editors taught me to make an opening commitment to the reader that promises an unforgetable experience.

What do you care about? Intense emotions tend to fall into positive and negative; neutral only rarely.


The reactions these emotions evoke are symptoms. For example, why do you cry? What makes you angry? When are you sad? How do you show love?

Pain can be emotional or physical – my reaction to it can be anger, tears, inward focus, lashing out, among others. Oddly enough, desire, lust and greed are results of pain and fear.

Fear often also elicits an anger response. My anger-elevated heart rate, intense desire to cause pain, unhappiness that a situation did not go as planned, helplessness and tears are common reactions.

Joy can also be the wellspring of a tearful reaction, as well as feelings of relief, release from fear and pain

Love, pure love, is commonly as empathetic emotion, bonding one to another in achieving common good.

Desires are outside of self-gratification. Occasionally love is characterized as a result; people act out the desire to achieve common benefit, but actions are not mindless or instinctive in humans. They are the result of internal reasoning based in part on experience.

Readers, what makes you turn the page?
How do you empathize with the characters? 
Every reader empathizes with different emotions. Some people prefer thrilling experiences of danger; some enjoy traveling the winding path of adversity toward inevitable marriage; some prefer the mind games of clue masters; others prefer the intricacies of world building.

In our examples this week, the first CLASH is between a first-person account depicting fear and pain while being held against his or her will that makes the reader wonder how the person came to be in the predicament; the other except is from a woman also in fear and pain, but outside in a forest with a stranger who can do even stranger things. An element of trust is added in this excerpt. Stay tuned: Our second CLASH features no-win situations. The stakes are high. Guilt is a powerful tool of an author.

I hope you enjoy these samples, and be sure to leave these authors an encouraging message, as well as join in our discussion today about what keeps you, the reader, engaged in a book. Thank you for coming by.
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Item Reviewed: What Makes a Reader Care? Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Lisa Lickel