My favorite authors are those who obviously care about their readers. They are more concerned with entertaining or teaching than showing off techniques. To my favorite authors, the reader experience is paramount.

Why Do We Read Fiction? Here Are 5 Reasons

5 Reasons Why Readers Read Fiction

I want to emulate these writers. I want the reader to be my priority as well. To help me better serve my readers, I decided to take a step back and ask—why do readers read? And specifically, why do we read fiction?

Here’s what I came up with:

1. Readers Read Fiction to Escape

Sometimes a person needs to just leave their world and enter someone else’s. Other times she needs to literally escape her own thoughts. So she turns to books.

Or are their jarring moments that take them out of it?

2. Readers Read Fiction for Companionship

People turn to fiction both when they’re alone and when they are lonely.

Sometimes people are just literally alone. They’re on a plane or have time at home, and the book becomes the companion they pass the hours getting to know.

When a person is lonely, the intimacy of books can show him that there are others like him out there. Or that there are others who feel the way that he feels. Books tell people that, while they’re unique, they’re not as unique as they think, ultimately helping them understand themselves and their circumstances better.

I believe that honesty and vulnerability are essential to reaching these readers.

3. Readers Read Fiction to Gain Perspective

Reading about aliens invading the universe can put your problems in perspective—I mean you literally could be dealing with the end of the world. Alternatively, historical fiction might make give readers context to the world that they live in.

Being conscious of this role of fiction may strengthen your writing.

4. Readers Read to Understand People They Haven’t Met and Places They’ve Never Visited

This is a crucial role of fiction, in my opinion. Fiction has the ability to help a person understand another person in a way that even television cannot. Fiction readers not only experience the protagonist’s point of view, but his innermost thoughts. They spend hours with his perspective and learning about his background. They think and care about someone very different from themselves.

Fiction also allows readers to experience new settings. Not just sights and sounds, but smells, tastes, and touches. But they can only do that if you take the time to describe these things. Have you?

5. Readers Read to Be Entertained

Yes, people still read to be entertained! I know it to be true. People read because they find it fun, interesting, and relaxing. For these people, the problem arises when reading becomes work. That is, when they have to labor through language or create flow charts to figure out what’s going on.

This is where I think editing comes in.The only way to make the story seem effortless is to revise, revise, revise.

Why Do We Read?

We read fiction for lots of reasons. Remember, you’re a reader, too! Why do you read fiction, and what do you love about your favorite books and authors? When you understand why your readers—and you—enjoy the books you read, it will help you write books your readers love.

Why do you read fiction? Let us know in the comments.

PRACTICE

Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, think about your potential reader. Now take fifteen minutes to describe the reader and why he or she would pick up your book.

Share your practice in the comments below, and don’t forget to leave feedback for your fellow writers!

Monica M. Clark
Monica M. Clark

Monica is a lawyer trying to knock out her first novel. She lives in D.C. but is still a New Yorker. You can follow her on her blog or on Twitter (@monicamclark).