The concept of rewarding readers is, as I understand it, giving your readers new things to enjoy upon second or third reads. It’s giving them things to notice or understand better that they wouldn’t have gotten the first time around. With every one of my novels, I have tried, and will always try, to do the very same. And I thought I’d point out a couple of my examples here in this article.
The only author I know of who does this intentionally is George R.R. Martin, specifically with his Song of Ice and Fire novels. There have been only 5 out of the 7 novels released so far, and those alone have now become longer than the Bible. With such long volumes, so many volumes, so many characters, and so much lore to the story, I’d hope the author snuck in some easter eggs. But George doesn’t do it because it’s wise, he does it because he wants his audience to have a good time reading his books, and to inspire his audience to re-read them.
It’s because George R.R. Martin does this that I also chose to do this. The Song of Ice and Fire novels have actually inspired a great deal of my Remnant series, from POV chapters to making all characters both good and evil (regardless of allegiance). Martin also inspired me in regards to rewarding readers when they re-read my novels. So, I’ll list some:
In Remnant, the character of Ethan is called ‘Ghost’ by Shane. With this specifically, readers don’t know what it means until the next novel, Resurrection, when you learn that ‘Ghost’ is Ethan’s alias and you learn why he has that nickname. But, if people were to read the first two novels back-to-back, and then immediately read them both again, they would notice this and understand it without even trying. Not to mention…
Ethan himself. In Remnant, you see this character who is described as a brute who is highly skilled in combat but also hates firearms. Throughout the novel, Theia describes her father as the one who taught her to fight so well, and that he hates guns. Only one reader has told me that they noticed these similarities and figured out that Ethan is Theia’s father before it’s revealed. Everyone else admitted that they didn’t see the twist coming, but that they should have, and that it’s very obvious in hindsight. Now, when those people read Remnant again, if they ever do, it will be plain as day that not only is Ethan the father of Theia, but that he is looking for her the entire time. This particular detail is important to the message of the novel as a whole, which is about perspectives and how things are not always what they seem. You know how they say hindsight is 20/20.
Last example I’ll list is in the second novel, Resurrection, with the character of Lilith. In a similar way to how Ethan’s alias is ‘Ghost,’ we only vaguely know about Lilith in the first novel. She is mentioned as Ethan’s twin sister and that she is the boss of their crime family. In Resurrection, we see that Lilith is much more than that. She’s the reason behind why Ethan is a ruthless killer, and why he has such severe problems in the first place. She’s not just someone mentioned in Remnant to give Ethan some vague connection to the mob, it’s his connection to his family that is the entire reason he is the way he is, and why he raised his daughter to be nothing like him.
Writing this article has inspired me to further delve into the deeper meaning in my stories, and how seriously I take deeper meanings with my stories and with others. Look for that article tomorrow at the usual time.