Who is The Reader?

So, the other day, I was schooling a new writer in the personality and quirks of a strange and ominous character known as The Reader.

Who is The Reader?

The Reader is the person who you write for. ("I write for myself" is code for "my writing sucks.")

Despite your dedication to The Reader, The Reader does not love you back--it's very unfair, I know. But The Reader has many, many other things to do with his or her time than read the work you've just bled out on the page to create. Tell The Reader, even subtly, not to read your work, and he's off watching professional wrestling and getting his girlfriend pregnant. Bore The Reader for a moment, and she's off getting pregnant, only to drop out of high school and wind up on welfare for the rest of her pathetic life.

The Reader is you when you were 10 years old, lying in the back yard, reading Jean Kerr and thinking to yourself, This is how you communicate with people.

The Reader is not educated. The Reader has no prior knowledge. But, although The Reader is utterly ignorant, The Reader is not stupid. Don't talk down to The Reader, s/he will resent it.

The Reader is an emergency responder. The Reader is taking the train home from an extremely draining job. The Reader has no need for your nonsense or issues. The Reader has no obligation to know or love the real you. But The Reader needs your book. The Reader need a world to enter, a way to enter it, and some escape. The escape may be simply a get-away; the escape may be a lesson in disguise; but your book must be, in either case, a genuine escape--easy to enter, diverting to be in, and hard to leave.