Today I have author Jolene Ballard Gutiérrez who wrote the awesome angel story Devil. May. Care
Writing for Reluctant Readers
Although my first love is writing, my day job is that of a teacher-librarian at a school for students with learning differences. My degree is in library science and information literacy, not learning differences, but I’ve been the librarian at this school for over 17 years, and my time working with students who learn differently has informed my writing in countless ways.
I truly believe that we all have learning differences—there are some things we do well and other things that are more of a challenge. That being said, I also believe that authors should be aware of the ways some of their readers may struggle with the printed word. Your response to this thought might be along the lines of, “Why should I care about reluctant readers? They’ll probably never even read my book!” I would argue that if your book is well-crafted, both avid readers and reluctant readers will be drawn to it.
Here are a few things to think about when writing (and if you consider yourself a reader rather than a writer, I’d love to hear how these categories influence your reading):
*Help readers visualize! Many of my students struggle with visualizing things. They often visit the library asking for books that correspond to movies they’ve seen because the movies “give” them the pictures they struggle to form in their own minds. These readers may love graphic novels as well because of the visual support they provide. If you’re talented enough to write a graphic novel, by all means, do it! If not, being specific with some of your descriptions can be extremely helpful for your readers who have a difficult time with visualization.
*Larger font and extra white space! Lots of readers struggle with font size. Small, crowded fonts can literally be painful for readers’ eyes. If you have any control over your print book’s layout, consider your readers’ visual comfort.
*Short, quick-paced books! Many readers are intimidated by thick tomes. As a writer, if you have a huge manuscript, think about what it might look like divided into a few smaller books. Thinking in terms of trilogies or series might be good marketing for you, and it keeps readers wanting more. If your book is action-packed and quick-paced, that’ll keep your readers hooked, too.
*Characters are crucial! For most readers, characters are vital to the story. If you’re writing middle grade or young adult novels, think about bumping your main character’s age up a bit. Many readers are frustrated and embarrassed when they find books at a great reading level for them but with characters much younger than they are. While we’re on the topic of characters, write your main character as a male if possible, because your book will then be “readable” by both sexes. Although this trend is changing as more and more strong female characters enter the scene, studies have shown that girls are much more likely than boys to read opposite-gender main character books. Lastly, when you name your characters, try to make sure that each name is unique and, if possible, starts with a different letter. Readers are sometimes confused by character names, and this confusion stands in the way of them losing themselves in the story.
So, as writers and/or readers, what have you noticed that appeals to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
I have to say I love short and quick-paced books. It makes me love them even more than books that are slow and boring. I have a very small attention span and I get bored fairly easy.
To win a *SIGNED* Paperback copy of Devil. May. Care. Answer Jolene’s question in the comments, leave your name/alias and email. Your comment will count towards the grand prize giveaway. As an extra bonus every comment that is made on this post will raise $1.00 for the Alberta Special Olympics!
This contest is open to US/Canadain residents only. Sorry International friends but shipping is expensive :(. But if you are an international follower state so in the comments and you will get a bonus entry for the grand prize!