How to write fiction

About rewards in fiction: lemon pay components to enchant readers

close up of lemon cake on plate
Photo by Nonik Yench on

Fiction is like that. Like lemon pay. It gives you two rewards by reading it: purpose and satisfaction. And to analyze this particular aspect of fiction I’ll start by placing the crust by grinding the «biscuits» of knowledge.


The sun shines and the catherpes mexicanus in the garage, laughs with its peculiar call. I look out the window and there blooms the colourful explosion of flowers in June. I take the hat from the door’s hanger and disaster!

It. Is. Over. The. Desk. I can’t see an inch of working surface and I know, I won’t be able to work happily later if I don’t do shit. Out with the hat. I do need a rest from that freaking illustration. The princess Celeste’s one… A hentai cartoon. I pretty much dislike those but… They’re well paid so nickies untwisted.

Bloody hell! It seems I’m making more of a mess instead of cleaning. The book pile has just avalanched down with my coughs floating up above the dust. Hey… There’s this picture on the floor. I don’t know this guy, where has this come from?

From the newest book on the pile!? I bought it his Tuesday in the flea market… Yes one book more… The phone rings…

Did you notice? I’m about to introduce a reward here. It is hidden there, in the text. Yet…


Do readers wish to have their wishes fulfilled and satisfied? Their petty daily revenges executed[1]?  The cute impossible moments of romance that might cringe them in real life[2]?

Reward. noun

1. [countable, uncountable] a thing that you are given because you have done something good, worked hard, etc. a financial reward
reward (for something/for doing something) a reward for good behavior. You deserve a reward for being so helpful.
Winning the game was just reward for the effort the team made.
The company is now reaping the rewards of their investments.

2. [countable] an amount of money that is offered to someone for helping the police to find a criminal or for finding something that is lost. A $500 reward has been offered for the return of the necklace.

Guessing, it has nothing to do with money. We require money from readers in exchange of our craft. Hence fore, a reader’s reward goes in the non countable side of nouns given that; clients need to feel satisfied. As well as we do.

Nonetheless we read fiction because of the prize. And the prize is not knowledge or great wisdom. That’s scarce and additional. Or maybe overflows but we do not care… Is there that much wisdom in erotic webtoon?

Our prize is emotional. In a cycle of feeding little bits of something the readers are not aware of.

Including cliffhangers. Readers will say they hate cliffhangers. But WHAT’S MORE EXCITING THAN HARMLESS CURIOSITY? Yet, cliffhangers are not the big prize.

Robert McKee says (yep, again the guy of Story… blah blah) we can, in general, create two emotional situations: pleasure and pain.

Is our reader a masochist then if they crave for pain? Not exactly. Pain might be another kind of pleasure but despite McKee counting it as something as a «safe» emotion like… Getting angry with someone who is not our mother or boss or wife or husband so we can curse those characters to our hearts content… Pain is one of the minor rewards.

Purpose is one. Purpose? Yep. Human beings like to assign purpose or causality to the flow of time. We make up historical dates to signify events as important or grandiose. Such as the foundation of Rome. Rome wasn’t founded in a single day. Yet, there’s a register of the creation of the myth of the first day. Why then, to have a first day of the foundation of a city? Things with a purpose have a starting point.

We tell ourselves we do this or that because this reason/these reasons. We connect the dots between our relations and friends and coincidences. Everything is related…

It might be random but we still have biased perceptions to the things we like. We tell ourselves a story so our life as a purpose. We believe in divinity to have an unknown purpose assigned in case we can’t think one on our own.

Narrative is different to life because life has many possible outcomes. Including the illogical ones. Narrative does not. It has a purpose in the logical limitations imposed to plot. Thus, one of the rewards of narrative is purpose. Everything in a narration has a logic.

The second reward is related to such logic. Readers can read and use their imagination and their emotions to think the outcome of a certain event. Logic tells them what’s coming. However, how many times have we discovered in disappointment the plot fell into the actions we have predicted? Maybe this is the difference between children and adults. Children wish for their predictions to be fulfilled. We, as adults, want our predictions to be fulfilled… Eh? Yes. We want our predictions to be fulfilled tough… We wish for novelty. We want the prediction to be fulfilled in a way that satisfies our emotion but it also surprises us.

Thus, we crave the montage we can identify… Like the guy in the photo. Don’t you feel like meeting him later in the plot? The point is… To introduce him in a way you might not be expecting.

Well, if you ever feel like rewarding this entry… Give it a heart, comment or subscribe. Thank you.

Pasto kalo.

[1] Ones against bad bosses, idiotic costumers, stupid sellers who have no idea what we want.

[2] At least they would cringe me… But I’m asexual and sex aversed and what is yucky for me doesn’t count for other people…

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