Readers are weird creatures...
... but if you think about it, so are authors. I mean, as a reader I'm going around picking my poison based on book covers and tropes. And for me, sad, emotional, heavy books soothe my soul. Break me, hurt me, and piece me back together at the end and you won me over. Seriously.
Others really enjoy books about guys who are billionaires and have secret(s) en masse, but would do everything for that woman, including swooping in with a helicopter to bring her to that special
appointment she otherwise wouldn't make. Or I heard there's that thing called Alien Porn books. Hey, no judging here, but it's a thing. So readers are really those amazing people who have hardly a real social life because they decide to spend their days (and nights... and boy you can spend so many nights with them) with book boyfriends, heroines, and monsters that turn out to be the saviors. They devour pages over pages of perfect love, broken love, second-chance love, eternal love and whatnot, and they feel a little bit happier each and every time their OTP (One True Pair(ing)) makes it. They cry and laugh, and mentally hold hands as people walk through sheer impossible tasks. You know that. We know that. But honestly, all those horrible things happening, those unbelievable obstacles the characters have to overcome, the sick shit they are forced through... someone makes that shit up.
And that's where the author comes in. Where we come in, because I'm like that, too. Where exactly am I going with this?
Easy. It was a few days back and I was writing Tagged For A New Start (Tagged Soldiers #3) and imagine the situation. We're about 45 to 50k into the story. The main couple has had that nice, heartwarming talk and everything's perfect. They know they love each other and all that, and there I am, thinking, damn, that was too easy for them. Seriously, life's never easy, so how about we do something to really mess this up?
And it was then I was wondering what the hell exactly is 'wrong' with me (nothing, I'd say, besides being slightly weird and a lot not like others I'm perfectly fine)? What makes me sit here, wondering how in the world I could make life harder on my mains. And I was going through all possibilities (sickness, accidents, exes, jealousy, cheating, secret babies and so on and so forth) and eventually found something I used in the story, but I was literally wondering how in the world I could make my readers hurt more.
And if that isn't enough, think about those Queens of Horror we know (yes, Franny Marie, I'm looking at you!). Sometimes I want to live in their heads, but others I really, seriously, honestly don't want to live in there. I'm in awe of people able to write horror (yes, Franny, I'm in awe of you because you are incredible) and crime and mystery and all that because I never could. I find it hard enough to realize where my story is going and if it's making sense when I'm about three quarters through. I go back and add small details so things make sense, but blood play and knife-carving and all that cruel shit? Jesus... Like... we authors are probably weirder than the readers because we want to break to break the reader, want to hurt them. We want them to hate us for a little while there, and seriously how does that? We aim to please people in real life because we want to be liked. We want them to talk about us because we impressed them with our niceness.
But not with readers. With them we want to makes them dislike us for the longest time. We want them to go around and tell their friends, "Here, read that book, it ruined me!" Yes, dear reader, we are the sick people who want to hurt you emotionally because we love you. We love you so much, we sit down and wonder how we can hurt you more, hurt our babies (because that's what our characters are) so much, you'll cry with them.
Granted, a lot of times we cannot stand the pain, either, so we make it all well in the end. We really do, but there are moments when you can't, when a book just has no happy outcome. And guess what? We still thrive to make you love the book anyway, to make you feel as if it still left you satisfied somehow, because only then we're happy.
So basically authors hurt while writing and they also hurt while knowing the readers hurt. However, we're happy if you're ending with a good feeling.
Jesus, I personally think authors are even weirder than readers. 🤣