I believe the acts of reading and writing fiction should be based on relationships of mutual respect.
First and foremost is an author’s respect of the reader’s time. This is one of Kurt Vonnegut’s eight rules for writing short stories:
1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
An author should respect her readers enough to not waste their time with unnecessary junk. This is hard – sometimes we do it by mistake, thinking the sentence we’re writing is absolutely necessary. That’s understandable, though it also represents an area for improvement.
Second is the author’s respect for her reader’s intelligence. No author should talk down to their readers, even if they’re writing for children. Those little brats are far more clever than most people realize, so there’s no need to belittle them, much less fully grown adults.
Third is an author’s respect for her characters. That doesn’t mean we have to treat them nicely, but we should respect them enough to not shamelessly exploit them, nor make them do things they wouldn’t do. Characters are fully under our control, but also not. Once we’ve decided who they are and who they will become, we shouldn’t derail them for shallow reasons (fanservice, pandering, endless sequels, etc).
Finally is the reader’s respect for an author’s time, commitment, and generosity. Make no mistake, nearly all fiction is an act of generosity, even if money changes hands. Only idiots get into this game thinking they’re going to get rich. The rest of us just can’t stop, because we have stories we badly want to share.
If all parties approached fiction with these levels of respect, I think we’d be better off. Tell me if I missed anything. The world could do with more respect.As always, thank you for using my Amazon Affiliate link (info).