In Stephen King’s book “On Writing,” he writes, “I think that every novelist has a single ideal reader; that at various points during the composition of a story, the writer is thinking, ‘I wonder what he/she will think when he/she reads this part?'” For Mr. King, that Ideal Reader is his wife Tabitha.
I’d like to say that for me, my Ideal Reader is my husband (aka Fat Cat)…but the truth is, he’s really not. He’s snarky, hard-to-please, doubly hard-to-impress, easily underwhelmed, and frankly, not much of a fiction reader at all.
But he is the one I always keep trying to please. Why? Well, for one thing, he’s honest, more honest than any critiquer I’ve ever had (“This story was boring. I kept waiting for it to start.”). I’m convinced he’s trying to encourage me in my writing endeavors through some sort of cartoon-esque reverse psychology. (“It’s rabbit season!” “Duck season!” “You call yourself a writer?” “It’s duck season!”)
But the real reason why I keep coming to him story after story for ego-blunt-force-trauma is because he is so very hard to please. After all, it’s not just short stories by his little ‘ole wife that leave him wanting at times. Award-winning screenwriters and directors often produce films that leave him shrugging at the end. “Meh.” And those people are being paid to tell their stories. He’s the audience member with barely a pulse.
This is why, when he does come to bed late at night and quietly announces that he’s finally read my story, the one I wasn’t waiting anxiously for two days for him to get to, and says that it was “good,” it leaves me feeling like all kinds of hooray!
So who’s your Ideal Reader? And why?