The Author’s Promise – 2 Things Writers Should Do

The Author’s Promise – 2 Things Writers Should Do

Writers Write is a resource for writers. If you are starting a book, we have put together a post on the author’s promise to help you finish it.

‘The first duty of the novelist is to entertain. It is a moral duty. People who read your books are sick, sad, travelling, in the hospital waiting room while someone is dying. Books are written by the alone for the alone.’ ~Donna Tartt

I have read thousands of books and reviewed many of them – 800 according to my Goodreads profile. Sometimes, I finish a book, and I think, ‘Wow! I loved that. I wonder what else the author’s written.’ Sometimes, I finish a book, and toss it aside with great force, and sometimes, I discard it without a second thought.

I have spent hours thinking about what makes me turn the page, pushing sleep away, determined to finish the story. I have spent just as much time thinking about what makes me want to throw the book away so that nobody else has to go through the literary torture I endured.

I believe it’s simple. I want to be entertained, and I want to learn something.

  1. I do not want a lecture. Show me a story driven by great characters, and let me come to my own conclusions.
  2. I do not want contrived literary manipulations, and obscure, incoherent writing. I am your reader, not your therapist.
  3. I also do not want to get lost in your unplotted stream of consciousness. I am not your editor. Please take some time to plot your novel.

Sometimes, magic happens and writers are able to produce that special something, that novel effect. Those are the books I will keep on my bookshelf and never forget. I know most books don’t fall into this category and don’t expect them to. I do expect to feel as if I haven’t wasted my time.

In the end, I think we’ve summed it up perfectly on our Writers Write – how to write a book – course. We suggest writers make this author’s promise to their readers, and try to keep it.

The Author’s Promise – 2 Things Writers Should Do
Image by Dixie Leota

The Author’s Promise

‘I, the author, undertake to fulfil your expectations on both an emotional and intellectual level. I will begin with this promise and I will try to overcome all obstacles in a satisfying, meaningful way through the middle of my book until I can discharge my side of the contract. I guarantee that in the end you will have either gained new insights, have your dreams confirmed or spent a thrilling vicarious journey with my characters.’

As a writer, you enter into an agreement on two levels:

  1. The emotional – you will provide an entertaining, inspiring story for your reader
  2. The intellectual – you will give your reader a new insight and a new outlook and takes him on a journey to another world, be it internal or external

If I have been entertained, informed, and inspired, I am a happy reader who will gladly spend money on your next book.

TOP TIP: If you want to learn how to write a book, sign up for our online course.

by Amanda Patterson

If you enjoyed this article, you will love:

  1. The 12 Question Fiction Writing Conflict Test
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  3. Writing Tip: Why you need a villain in your story

Top Tip: Find out more about our workbooks and online courses in our shop.

Posted on: 8th April 2014

0 thoughts on “The Author’s Promise – 2 Things Writers Should Do”

  1. Hi Amanda! What a brilliant post! I sometimes struggle a bit when writing a story… I usually think that if I’m being entertained by my own story there must be something wrong with it… 😛 I love your “Author’s promise” and also Donna Tart’s quote! Just brilliant! 🙂


  2. A very apt description of the idea of leaving things to the reader’s intellect and imagination. I totally agree with you, doing otherwise is an insult.

  3. Incredibly well-said. I also hate it when a writer is didactic or obviously has some kind of personal axe to grind. What you said about letting the reader make his or her own conclusions from the story brings to mind Hemingway’s iceberg theory: only one tenth of an iceberg can actually be seen; the rest lies below the surface. That is the way it should be with good writing.

  4. Writing has been my topmost desire even when my nerves were young. How i wish i could join the writers write classes to learn more. God bless you for your informartive group.