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Satisfy Me, Baby

Interracial coupleYou know how it is when you’ve just finished, and you lay back in the bed feeling completely satisfied, expel a contended sigh, and think to yourself, “Wow. That was great.”

Then you close the pages of the book you’ve just read and ponder what you’ll read next. (what? did you think I was talking about something else?) 😉

Writers know what gives us book satisfaction when we’re producing our own material. We like how the characters turn out, when our pacing is smart and snappy, when our dialogue is realistic, when our prose flows like a river. But what about readers? What makes a reader feel deeply satisfied at the conclusion of a book versus howling with indignity and slamming it against the wall?

An important determination in the quest for book satisfaction is what exactly we’re trying to get out of the book. Readers of erotic romance, presumably, read it because they like the turn on they get from a hot book. They experience their own arousal through the characters, they enjoy reading explicit details of the sexual encounters as the romance progresses. I know reader friends who’ve told me that they use erotic romances as a way to spice up their sex lives with their spouses or lovers. So if a reader is left unsatisfied by an erotic romance, does it mean the sex scene were no good?

We all remember – while cringing, no doubt – the era of purple prose sex descriptions. How many books have we all read about the hero thrusting his love lance into her fiery honey pot? Nowadays readers expect better writing, and they get it. They also expect their sex scenes to be hotter, longer, and more varied. Writers deliver that, too. Erotic romances run the gamut from traditional m/f same race couples to gay couples, paranormal couples, interracial couples, mĂ©nage, BDSM, orgies, and everything in between. Yet readers, in the words of the Rolling Stones, still sometimes say:

I can’t get no satisfaction,
I can’t get no girly action.
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try.
I can’t get no, I can’t get no.

Rolling Stones

Mick and the boys – they look happy, but sometimes they’re just not satisfied.

Sometimes I think that an unsatisfactory book can honestly be attributed to a reader just not being in the right mood when they read it. Years ago I tried reading Frederick Forsyth‘s Day of the Jackal. I read maybe twenty pages but couldn’t get into it. I’d heard it was good, but thought maybe it just wasn’t for me. Later on I tried again. Same result. It ended up taking me four tries before I could finally get into it, but to this day it remains one of my favorite books ever. It was, as reviewers often say, “a very satisfying read.”

The truth is, no matter how much we try to analyze the reasons behind why a book fails to please, emotion often trumps logic. It’s like romance and love itself. Why the hell are we falling for the bad boy when the upstanding, straight-laced, hard-working fatherly type would be a much better, more logical choice? Maybe so, but our emotional pull goes without reason or sense to the bad boy. He never fails to satisfy. 🙂

When do you find yourself unsatisfied by a book? Is there a base need that fails to get met, or are there any number of reasons why a book may leave you high and dry? Comment below and be sure to follow . . . ’cause here at Elizabeth Shore, I aim to please.

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