How to Think Deeper About Everything You Read

Are you an active or passive reader?

I have a confession to make.

I am a passive reader.

Sometimes I read a book, really enjoy the book, put it on my shelf, and don’t think about it again.

I don’t like that I do this. It’s something I’m trying to work on. Because I love books, I love words, and I want part of my reading experience to involve thinking deeper — thinking critically — about the things I’m learning from books.

If you’re feeling the same way — I really hope I’m not the only one — I want to share a few tricks I’ve started using to become a more active reader. They might help you, too.

Write about it

It feels like everyone is writing book reviews and starting book review blogs. Don’t listen to the “advice” that you shouldn’t do that because everyone else is, though. Forcing yourself to follow up a good read with a review not only refines your writing skills, but makes you pay attention to what you feel are the most important elements of whatever you’re reading — and important skill set for an aspiring writer.

You don’t have to write full book reviews to practice this. I’ve started (infrequently) doing micro-reviews on my Instagram. I much prefer writing two- or three-sentence blurbs about my experience as a reader, from the perspective of a fellow writer. It’s not much, but it does force me to reflect on what I’ve just read. That might be a fun way for you to start experimenting with more critical reading outlets.

Take snapshots — literally

Some people annotate. Some people dog-ear pages (!!!). You can highlight, sticky tab, bookmark any page in a book you want. But sometimes, I want to take a (literal) snapshot of a passage quickly, so I don’t have to stop reading for long, so I can store it in a place I won’t lose it and return to it later.

All you heathens with ereaders can pretty much do this automatically — it’s built into the software. If you need to hold and cherish a physical book like the rest of us, all you have to do is take a photo with your phone. Call me old-fashioned, but I know exactly where to find the quote I saved from Bill Nye’s new book this morning. Three finger taps on my phone, and I’m there.

(In case you weren’t sure, I love physical book hoarders and ereader junkies equally. You’re all lovely.)

Discuss it

I know, I know, you’re having English class flashbacks. But admit it — those [required] discussions were vital to your understanding of literature, whether you enjoyed them or not. Sometimes sharing your thoughts about a book — and hearing others share theirs — changes your perspective relating to a specific theme, character, or string of events. As a writer, meeting with others to discuss published books is just as valuable as meeting with other writers and discussing your unpublished work as a group.

Don’t want to venture out into the world and physically interact with other human beings? This is why the internet exists (well, sort of). Join a virtual book club! You can find them all over the place. Or you could start your own. I can guarantee you aren’t the only one who likes to read a specific genre and wants to discuss books with others on the web.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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A Case for ‘Required Reading’ As An Adult

Why don’t more adults read?

Can you recite, off the top of your head, the title of the last book you read? Can you estimate how many books you’ve read in the past month — in the past year?

In my opinion, there are too many people who never pick up (or, sigh, download) another book the moment they don’t have to, if they ever even did their required reading in school at all. I don’t believe there are people who “just aren’t readers.” If you don’t like to read, that’s fine, I’m not going to force you. But there is a subject matter, a format (novel? Audiobook? Comic?), a style of writing, an author, an optimal word length, for everyone. You can choose not to read — but if you do, there’s something for you. And you should do all you can to find it.

Why don’t more people read? I ask this question because I’m curious, not because I’m judging anyone who doesn’t. I just wonder if our lives are just way more cluttered with other stuff than they used to be — even though sitting in front of a screen and watching shows, for example, is nothing new.

I’m not going to sit here and say Netflix and YouTube have ruined reading forever, because I spend more hours per week than I’m proud to admit on both of those platforms, and I’m still on book 30 of 50 this year.

There are people who prefer videos and BuzzFeed articles and podcasts to reading, but there are also plenty of people who prefer to diversify their entertainment, or edutainment, depending on the types of books you tend to read. I love streaming TV, but I do get tired of sitting there staring at a screen — I like mixing things up and staring at a physical page full of words for awhile.

So it’s not that we need to stop streaming and replace it with reading. No — we just need to do a better job of balancing watching, listening, reading, playing, and doing.

Maybe we just don’t know what to read, where to look for recommendations, whether or not we’ll like something before we dive into it. I hope that doesn’t stop people from exploring the wondrous world of books! There are so many! Which is probably the issue!

You already know how to read, but there’s so much more to gain from doing more of it on your own time. It forces you to focus — something I’m guessing many adults struggle with today (I do!). You get to use your imagination, picture how things might look and sound, something you don’t get to do when you’re watching a movie. Reading can also make you feel good — it’s a healthy kind of distraction, stress reliever, and when all else fails, go-to BFF.

If you do want to start reading more — even if only to inspire yourself to write more — or you want to encourage someone you know to do the same, start with the books from high school English class. They’re better than you think. In fact, reading them now, having already been exposed to them once before, makes for an even better reading experience.

Everything you had to read for a grade in school, you should read again at some point. I never finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird my freshman year of high school, but I have since read it cover to cover at least five times. A book you read (or were supposed to read) for a grade is much more valuable if you read it at least once for the assignment, and at least a second time on your own.

I’m more aware of my surroundings, I’m exposed to different cultures and religions, I can explore and try to understand ways of thinking that are different than mine — all because I read. If the social internet has taught us anything, it’s that more people need harsh, relatable exposure to all of these things and more. Books can do that. Any kind of story, whether you’re physically holding a book in your hand or not, can.

I think people should read more of what they want to read, because they want to read. I mean, 50 Shades isn’t necessarily what I’d choose, but maybe those kinds of things could be someone’s gateway drug to more … in-depth and insightful literature. You never know until you try. Everyone has to start somewhere.

Read more. Talk about books more. It just makes us all better people, and maybe happier, too.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


Help Novelty Revisions become a more valuable resource for aspiring writers.

Join now.

Why Books Are the Best Gifts to Give

You never have to wonder what you’re going to give someone.

Mother’s Day and my dad’s birthday fell within a day of each other this year. So last week, I made a bold choice: I dared to dive deep into the abyss that is shopping for books online, knowing I could not, and would not, be getting anything for myself.

It was a much more rewarding experience than I expected. Shopping for books for other people doesn’t come with quite the same kind of excitement as getting something for yourself. You know what you like and what you want. But shopping for another person, you’re faced with dozens of books they might like, and you’re forced to decide which one they’ll love the most.

I find the best test of how well you know someone is to pick out a book for them. Because buying a book for someone can have a multitude of purposes. Is someone you know interested in learning more about something? Get them a book about it. Are they looking for a good mystery? Buy them a mystery novel. Are they dealing with something personal? Get them a book that tells stories of hope.

I don’t think it’s possible to disappoint someone with a book. Neither my dad nor my brother are huge readers, but they’ve never been disappointed opening up a book from me. A book says, “I know you might not read this, but I thought this story might interest you and got it for you because I care.” My book-hoarding friends love to get books they don’t have to pay for (books are expensive!). People who don’t love to read will still find joy in receiving a book about a subject they could talk about for hours on end.

Though I’m certainly not one of them, there are people out there who read a book once and then give it away. That’s almost even better — not only does one person get to enjoy a story, but then they get to pass it on to someone else who can experience it. And then they can pass it on … and so on.

A book isn’t just used once or for a short time and then thrown away. It’s an experience many people can benefit from, not just one. Books don’t become outdated — you don’t get rid of one book to replace it with a newer model. And, possibly my favorite thing about books: once you’re done reading them, if you don’t give them away, they become decorations. My bookshelves are not full of forgotten pages. They’re a display of all the places I’ve been, all the people I’ve met, all the adventures I’ve had. And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way (give a shout-out!).

Not everyone loves to read every genre of books. But books are versatile — there’s something out there for every person. I never have to wonder what I’m going to get someone. I only have to consider which type of book, which individual story, I’m going to gift them this year.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

On World Book Day, Ask a Writer What She’s Reading

A writer who reads …

Most writers do not discover stories by writing them. They discover stories by absorbing them.

I don’t know which came first: my parents reading old fairytales to me or sitting me in front of their animated Disney adaptions.

But as soon as I could, I started telling my own stories. The older I got, the more I learned, the more I read. The more I read, the more I itched to write my own stories — until I learned to do that, too.

And then I did it. Over, and over, and over again.

I still do. Daily.

For a long time, I wondered why it was easier to discuss books than it was to discuss my own writing. Sharing my own ideas became a source of creative anxiety. Yet sitting down to do a book report in school hardly felt like homework.

I do not like when people ask me what I’m writing. I appreciate it — and I always try to ask other writers I meet what they’re working on.

But there’s a question I like much more than, “What are you writing?”

I would rather ask — and be asked — “What are you reading?”

It’s not that this question is harder to answer than its more common alternative. At least for me, it’s easy to name the book that’s currently sitting on my nightstand.

It’s just more interesting.

Writing, even in its later stages, is still an unfinished product of a writer’s ever-scattered mind. Even a simple elevator pitch is intriguing … but a conversation stopper.

I find that when I ask people what they’re reading, conversations erupt in joy and excitement. Because talking about books — finished, published, circulated — is where all writing starts. When I ask people what they’re writing, they tend to give generic, incomplete responses … because many times, their writing isn’t complete yet. Some people don’t want to talk about it (yet).

Asking a writer what’s on their nightstand gives them an opportunity to talk about someone else’s words and life and ideas. While it’s true most people love talking about themselves, talking about what you’re writing can feel like you’re sharing a secret you’re not ready to tell.

Yet talking about other writers brings out their raw obsession with an idea — which is much more interesting than pressuring them to get into the logistics of their latest project.

Ask a writer what they’re working on, and their words will spill out accompanied by nerves. Ask them what they’re reading about, and their eyes will light up. It’s amazing to watch.

Some writers still aren’t used to discussing their own work. But chances are, they’ve been discussing the work of other writers for decades.

There’s something magical about a writer who reads.

A writer who reads has a stronger voice.

Their mind is open to more ideas; possibilities; beliefs and worldviews.

A writer who reads is less afraid to explore uncharted territory. They understand that not all conversations are easy, and that stories are tools we can all use to persuade, to shame, to praise, to spread acceptance, to highlight facts, to break down barriers.

Today, don’t ask a writer what they’re writing about. Ask them what they are reading. Ask them their favorite books, their favorite authors. Start with who and what influences and interests them the most. That is where passion for words and ideas begins. Sometimes, putting into words what you haven’t finished writing yet is impossible. But where your ideas come from, where your latest project had its first spark — a writer can discuss that for hours on end.

Most of us, before we can write well, read. That is how we fall in love with stories. And it’s what inspires us to start telling, and then writing, our own.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

The Gift Every Writer Needs This Year

HINT: It’s not books. (:

To the friends and family of the writer:

It’s too late now to go out and buy your loved one, the writer, a present (probably). Perhaps you’ve put it off so long because you simply don’t know what to get them. A new pen? A notebook? Food? What do writers like? Books? Books about writing? WHAT DO THEY WANT FROM YOU?

It’s not too late, it turns out, to get a writer the perfect gift.

A writer doesn’t need another tool, another device, another distraction (though, sure, all those things are nice, and they’ll still appreciate those things, don’t worry). And they don’t need a pat on the back, a reminder that they are doing a good job and that they are going to make a name for themselves someday.

What a writer needs is simple. Effortless, even.

A writer needs you to read something they’ve written. Just one thing. One short, painless thing.

Why? Because all year, they have been working really hard, trying to be better at doing something they really like to do. And they have kept you out of it, not because they do not like or trust you, but because they know that not everything they write is good, and they want nothing more than to show you the best of themselves, especially in their original work.

Offer. Ask them if you can take just a few minutes to read a little something of what they’ve been working on this year. You’ll be amazed at how much joy this will bring them. Because what they’re looking for isn’t criticism, or even an honest opinion. Just knowing you’re willing to take the time to acknowledge all the effort they have put into their craft this year, in a very meaningful way, is more than enough to make this whole year worth it.

To the writer:

As a writer, you, reading this right now, have hopefully learned how difficult it is to find people willing to read what you have written. This is because people are busy, and they do not have time to read every single word that comes out of your head. It isn’t because they don’t like or appreciate you. It’s because, honestly, some people would really love to sit down and really absorb something you’ve written … but they can’t. They don’t want to rush through it for the sake of reading something you wrote. It wouldn’t be fair to you. They know that.

So as a gift to you this year, you can ask them to do what is usually pointless and often almost selfish to do: ask them to take that time, the time they don’t normally have, to read just a page. Maybe two. Choose a short passage of something you have worked very hard to perfect, bring it to them and say, “For me, just this once, could you read something I’ve created?”

They don’t need to give you feedback. They don’t need to critique every single element of every single line. They just need to read it.

Why? Because it makes you feel good, and you know it. Approach something like this with no expectations, and you will find that people who love you will be more than happy to take a few minutes to dive into your world. This is what the holiday season is all about: celebrating each other. Appreciating each other. Being kind, and respectful. Giving, without expecting anything in return.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

My Favorite Sentences from Books I Read This Year (2015)

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By the conclusion of 2015, I will have read 40 books. 41, if I can squeeze one more in before the holidays hit for real.

This is the time of year everyone is posting their top x of 2015 listicles (list posts), and I’ve never really done that. So I thought I’d hop on the bandwagon, try it out, see how it goes.

But I didn’t want this to be just any ordinary end-of-year favorites post. Even if I did want to make it about books, since I’m a writer and that automatically makes me a reader. So instead of telling you my top five books from this year’s reading list, I’ve pulled five sentences from books I read in 2015, which I think capture the beauty of each in a different way.

You can watch the video right here.


Ender’s Game

“Sometimes lies were more dependable than the truth.” (Orson Scott Card, p. 2)

Tell the Wolves I’m Home

“Maybe there’s a whole assortment of impossible people waiting for me to find them.” (Carol Rifka Brunt, p. 347)

The Casual Vacancy

“He saw the boy, chocolate-stained, ill-kempt and unappealing, and walked past, his happiness in tatters.” (J.K. Rowling, p. 459)

Saint Anything

“You always think you want to be noticed. Until you are.” (Sarah Dessen)

Looking for Alaska

“So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.” (John Green, p. 111*)


What did you read this year? More importantly, which pieces of those stories have stuck with you?

*10th anniversary edition, hardcover

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

Use CreateSpace to Bring Your Book to Life (31DBBB Day 28)

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So you’ve finally finished writing that monster of a book, huh? Well that accomplishment deserves a reward, my friend. Sure, you’ll need to move on to revisions and query letters and all that jazz if you’re serious about seeing your work go to print “for real.” But you don’t have to wait to hold a proof copy of your finished novel in your hands.

Even if you aren’t planning on self-publishing your book—that is, making digital and print copies available online for anyone to purchase—tools like CreateSpace can still help you take your project to the next level.

Proof copies of your book can not only make you feel pretty good about yourself for 15 minutes; they can also make the revisions process a little easier by giving you a different medium to reread what you’ve already written. It’s a worthwhile step to take before going any further, whether you want to officially self-publish or not.

CreateSpace makes it easy to format and design your pages and book cover

You don’t have to know much about graphic design or typography to set up the literal ins and outs of your book. Free built-in tools take you right through the process and help you design the book you’ve always dreamed of. It takes a little time to align the format to a set of standards and play around with cover templates, but it’s worth the effort. And if you do know a thing or two about design, you’re allowed to upload your own work, too.

Ordering a proof on CreateSpace is so, so cheap

And that’s without a NaNo-courtesy discount (if you needed a push to write just a little faster this November). You can order a proof copy of your book for less than the cost of a book you’d get from Barnes & Noble, plus shipping … unless your book is ridiculously long with color pictures. Price is dependent, obviously, on what gets printed (there’s no set predetermined cost).

Oh … and you can also order more than one

If you have a few close friends who wouldn’t mind reviewing your work, CreateSpace allows you to order up to five proof copies before you have to choose whether or not to approve it and move forward with the publishing process. This way, you can reserve one copy to keep on your shelf (because, why not?) and use the rest for marking and dog-earing, if your’e into that sort of thing.

I have used CreateSpace to print proof copies of all the finished first drafts of my books. I have never gone past the proof copy step—nothing against self-publishing or those who do, it’s just not for me—but I’ve always been impressed with the results nonetheless.

If you need some reassurance that all this writing nonsense isn’t all for nothing, holding that first copy of your book, you know, that thing you wrote all by yourself? It’s a pretty amazing feeling. It’s cheap and it’s YOURS.

You can thank Problogger’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge for prompting this review. What did you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts or your past experiences with CreateSpace or other similar platforms!

Love&hugs, your readers<3

Image courtesy of CreateSpace.com.

A recent graduate with a B.A. in English and a completed major in nutrition, currently seeking a graduate degree in health communication, Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and dietetics. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist and Grammar Nazi (and the mastermind behind this site), Meg is an editor for College Lifestyles magazine and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine’s Stone Soup.  She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has written several creative pieces for Teen Ink magazine. Follow Meg on Twitter. 

Why Do We Turn Books Into Movies?

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Every time a new movie comes out, if there’s a book that came first, people start comparing and contrasting the successes and shortcomings of each.

Either the book is better than the move for vise versa, even if they’re both exceptional or cringe-worthy. Without fail, there’s always the need to defend one over the other; some argue the book is always better; some wish there was never a book at all. Some choose movie first, book second. Some will never watch a movie before reading the written work that came before it, if applicable.

We’re never going to stop comparing, the same way we’re never going to stop turning books into movies. But why do we do it—and why do we keep doing it, even die-hard book lovers who can’t see a movie first?

Because we’re human, and we need variety. We need the chance to experience stories in different ways, both reading and viewing.

We want to see the stories we love come to life

If a story is captivating enough, it really can transport its reader out of the real world for as long as the pages keep turning. The way we experience the events of a book is hard to describe, but every once in awhile, the unexpected twist of an already unpredictable plot can leave us with racing hearts and goose bumps long after we close the book.

Watching that same story on a big screen, acted out by real people, made as realistic as possible with sets and effects and soundtracks galore, can leave us with yet another cocktail of feelings that last through the rolling credits and beyond.

We all picture the details of stories differently 

This is one of the pros of sizing up a book to its movie. An author can use all sorts of styles and pairings of words to showcase a scene as we’re reading through it, but we all interpret these things in slightly different ways. In a way, we see what we want to see, and sometimes a writer’s description of a particular character, for example, might not match how we picture them in our own heads.

So when it comes time for the movie versions of stories we’ve already read, it’s our chance to see if the way we imagined these stories aligns at all with the visions of the directors and screenwriters working on their film versions. We’re not always pleased—but then, our appreciation for those same elements of the book shines through.

Sometimes the author and filmmakers work together, and magic happens

While the process of writing, revising and binding a book might eventually expand to an agent, publisher, copy editor and so on, it always begins with one person: the author. Once that book has had its initial successful run, and those movie rights are negotiated, it becomes a full-on team effort to turn that author’s brainchild into a cinema-worthy motion picture.

Sometimes the author gets to be present throughout various milestones in the book-turned-movie process, and when this happens, those faithful to the book do their happy dances in peace. No, the author doesn’t necessarily have a say in who gets cast as whom. But they can still influence small details, and if there do end up being major plot changes, the author can at least defend the decision (which, sometimes, might even make the plot of the movie just a little better than its original form).

Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But when you write, don’t you sometimes picture scenes playing out in your mind to get a better grasp on what’s happening? Sort of like a movie? It helps us see things differently. Things that were supposed to be humorous in a book might not come off that way, but laid out in movie form, laughter is inevitable.

Of course, you don’t have to see the movie version, you know. The same way, we suppose, you don’t ever have to read the book. (But … authors still hope you will.)

 What’s the best book-to-movie adaption you’ve seen lately? The worst?

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Five Books That Inspire Us to Keep Writing

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Motivation to write comes from many outlets, but reading is probably the most influential inspiration.

Reading works other writers have created opens our eyes to different styles, techniques and themes. Often our favorite books are the ones that draw us back to our own writing even when we’re hooked on someone else’s story.

Finding books that inspire you requires a little exploration and a willingness to pick up and read stories you’ve never heard of before. But in doing this it is possible to find literary treasures, and pieces of your heart you never knew you were missing.

Here are five books that have inspired us to keep writing as we’ve grown up, grieved and somehow found ourselves in someone else’s pages.

 1. Tell the Wolves I’m Home (Carol Rifka Brunt)

A story of love, grief and growth, this book follows 14-year-old June as she and her family, and an unlikely companion, deal with the loss of Finn, and uncle, brother and lover. From beginning to end, our MC and narrator grows up, but not before coming to terms with the difference between make-believe and reality, and how each one fits into her world.

 2. Lock and Key (Sarah Dessen)

Ruby has a lot to learn about trust, love and forgiveness. Abandoned by her mother and shipped off to live with the sister that abandoned her long before that, she slowly figures out what it means to be part of a family in more ways than one. And of course, the boy next door opens her eyes, and her heart, to truths even deeper than comfort and truth.

 3. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

Josephine “Jo” March handles hardships the way many of us do—by crafting her own stories in the privacy of her family’s attic. With her father away at war and three sisters and a mother left behind, she’s desperate to find her place in the world, and to make a name for herself as a successful writer. Not an easy thing to do in the 1800s, when you’re a woman and lack the higher class status of your neighbor.

 4. Paper Towns (John Green)

Mysteries are life’s greatest thrill—at least, that’s the philosophy Margo seems to live by. When she disappears, she becomes the kind of mysteries she always hungered to solve, leaving subtle clues for Q and his friends to (maybe) follow. It’s not your typical mystery novel, but the satisfying combination of infatuation, humor and adventure leads readers on a journey they don’t even realize they’re on until it’s in full swing.

 5. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)

This classic takes readers through the young lives of Scout and Jem as members of their community deal with social issues most children find it impossible to understand. Through a child’s point of view emerges a truthful glimpse into hardships and injustices we still deal with today, but most importantly, this book reminds us of the conflicts that arise when we judge those around us before we know who they really are.

No matter where you are in life, there is a book out there that resonates with your own real-life story. Take a leap of faith and begin your own journey to find it.

Writing our own stories isn’t always easy. But at this point, plenty of others have overcome their own barriers to write theirs. Read them. Admire them. Allow yourself to be inspired to write yours.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

We Shouldn’t Try to Make Every Reader Happy

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 Book discussions would be awfully short and less fulfilling if everyone had the exact same reaction to every story.

As a reader, you want to dive into stories that pull you away from the present and into someone else’s world. As a writer, you want to give your readers that privilege. Often, though, it becomes tempting to want to shape your story in such a way that pleases anyone and everyone who might pick it up.

The problem with this? You can’t please everyone. You shouldn’t even try. And there are some pretty amazing reasons why.

Everyone reads for different reasons 

While reading always allows for a temporary escape, not everyone picks up a book—or the same types of books—for identical reasons. Some prefer light, easy “beach reads” to fill the small interval of time between evening and bedtime. Some read to learn—yes, even when it’s not required. Some like fluffy romance novels. Some need a good mystery, maybe with or without a happy ending, to satisfy their literary hunger.

It’s just not possible to meet every single person’s needs in one story, or even a collection of them. Some people will just flat-out hate your writing style for virtually no reason. Some will love your writing style, also for no reason in particular. Some can’t resist a cliché love triangle, while others … well, you get the idea.

But everyone’s varying purposes for reading is actually, it turns out, a good thing.

Disagreement encourages discussion

When a reader disagrees with a writer, or two readers or two writers disagree with one another, it doesn’t always mean it will lead to comment wars (the bad kind) online. One of our goals as writers should be to prompt discussion. To do that, you have to write things that stimulate thought and emotion enough to drive someone to put your book down and start a conversation.

Back to our first point, though: if everyone always agreed, or reacted the same way to every story, there wouldn’t be much left to say. Books don’t always have to give answers: they should ask questions instead, through characters’ own thoughts and actions and major plot points.

If you want someone to discuss your story, and/or the events that occur within its pages, you’re going to have to cover things not everyone agrees on. But that shouldn’t stop you. In fact, you can use it as a motivator.

We don’t always write to satisfy 

It’s as simple as that, really. Though stories, plays, books and more have the ability to entertain and inform, it’s rare we do it with the inference that what we’re constructing won’t be both praised and torn apart when readers get their hands on it.

Just like everyone reads for different reasons, everyone writes for different reasons, too. While it’s important to keep your audience in mind, you should use what you know about your potential readers to pick and choose the ideas that suit them.

This does NOT mean you should only write what they’ll like or dislike. It means you can, by interacting with them, tune in to what they care about, and use that knowledge to challenge their beliefs, put their brains to work and get them talking—and in some cases, even persuading them to take action and initiate even small changes in their real-world lives.

If someone appears unhappy with something you’ve written, they’ll probably voice their opinions. That’s good for those readers who might otherwise hesitate to express their thoughts. It’s a cycle, you see. Someone reads a book. They react. If they’re dissatisfied because your story has opened their eyes to something they never noticed before, maybe they’ll write something about it. Someone else will read what they have to say. Maybe they’ll pick up your story as a result, to see what it’s all about.

Never forget, fellow writers: we touch lives. Even the lives of people we never meet.

Don’t worry about making them happy. They’re reading. They’re thinking. Let that be enough.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.