What Readers Want, Number Whoknows in a Continuing Series

Thinking about what readers what in books, as one does. . .

When we were at Confluence, I said on a panel (which panel, I no longer recall, but it was late in the con. Very possibly it was the last panel, at which, yanno, I’m liable to say anything…) that we were writing books that had to do, not only with Actions, but with the Consequences of Actions.

And a person in the audience said, But what if you don’t want to read about the consequences of actions? What if you only want to read about the actions, the excitement, the adventure?

And I said — last panel, remember — that, as far as I was concerned, it was perfectly fine to read Pure Action Books, there were a lot of them out there, many of them are fun, and far be it from me to tell anyone what they ought to read.

However, I could speak authoritatively in terms of writing, and, specifically, in terms of writing the Liaden Universe® (though this is also, and is possibly more, applicable in the Carousel/Archers Beach universe):  In our work, there are Consequences to Actions. Yes, people have to Act, and often messily, because, well, space opera. And also because the people who Act shape the future.

But!  The important takeaway here is this:

The universe Steve and I write in is a Universe of Moms; there are consequences to actions; and somebody has to clean up the mess.

I also said that what readers need to remember is that — speaking again for myself at the last panel of a convention — I am not writing for them.  I have never written for them.  I am writing for me.  It’s nice that other people like to read what I write, but I’m not writing for All of Them Out There.  I can’t write for Them, as any number of internet articles will tell you.  I don’t have the tools to write for Them.

So, that leaves me.  And you, if you find that I speak your language, or near enough.

And now it’s time for coffee.

11 thoughts on “What Readers Want, Number Whoknows in a Continuing Series”

  1. Maybe that’s part of what makes your books seem so real to me. Real life actions have consequences. Your books may be set in a universe other than the one we live in; yet seem so real that they feel alive when I’m reading them. Life is messy. Actions have consequences. To pretend otherwise would be hard world to connect with. Thanks for staying true to you. I, for one, am grateful and also anxiously awaiting the Neogenesis earc so that I can connect again with the world you’ve created.

  2. So pleased that our languages are similar. I enjoy the thoughtfulness of the Liaden Universe, especially the consequences of actions and cleaning up the mess – cleaning is action too. That is real living.

  3. Very much what Jess said. Anxiously waiting for more Words which I shall read and reread many times; as I have done with all the previous books. And I keep finding little gems buried that I didn’t catch the first times. Esp Crystal Soldier and Crystal Dragon. Wow!! Thanks and a Tip of the Hat.

  4. Y’know, I think you’ve finally given me the “Aha!” moment about why I like what you two write so very much, and why I consider its study a postgraduate course for those who, like myself, have been published for many years but still have difficulty bringing characters and situations to life!

    Thank you very much. And, need I add, I hope you continue doing so for many years to come, with all your personal consequences (and of course those of your feline friends) being enjoyable!

  5. The question we ask often, as we’re writing, is “What happens next?” It’s a great way to see the consequences just rolling out in front of you.

  6. In many ways, Liaden and the Vorkosigan universe and Nathan Lowell’s tales of the solar clippers are very very different, but this post explains why I love them all — in the world I live in, actions do have consequences, so these universes seems real because that’s true there.

    It was Cordelia Vorkosigan who said that when you choose an action, you choose its consequences, too, whether you meant to or not. But she could have been speaking about Korval just as much as speaking about Barrayar.

    Space opera that shows consequences and what it takes to deal with said consequences appears to be my personal catnip..

  7. “Are you able to support the children of your actions, Nelirikk Explorer?” . . .coming from no one more or less than Miri.

    . . .not to mention the very opening of Fledgling, where, in a fit of Absolute Candor, Jen Sar tells Theo that decisions have consequences.

    So, yeah, it’s a long-running theme, for us. I don’t think I’m capable of writing a story where the answer to “And then what happens?” is — Somebody else takes care of the boring stuff.

  8. I think it’s a matter of taste in stories & their universes. I don’t want consequences of actions if it’s a downward spiral, cause I don’t like tragedies & horror. I will choose fluff over *that* flavor of serious every time. I do want my guys to more-or-less triumph in the end. BUT, I’d much rather have rich, complex stories like yours. That’s like a full meal to me, whereas fluff vs tragedy is like, “which would you rather eat till you’re full, marshmallows or spiders?” Yes, I and lots of other people will take marshmallows every time, without discussion, but only so long as nothing else is available, and we’re already starving.

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