The notion of a contract is a simple one. It is an exchange of promises. Party A promises something and gets something in return; party B promises something and gets something in return. You buy a house, you promise money, you get a house. The seller promises to give you a house, gets money. Simple.
A real estate contract is a formal contract. A prenuptial agreement is a formal contract. A time-payment plan purchase agreement is a formal contract.
There are informal contracts that are just as binding. These are implied contracts. You make an appointment with your dentist, you agree to be there at the appointed time to suffer the pain, he agrees to be there at the appointed time to inflict it.
When you write a novel you make a contract with the reader. The basic contract with the reader is this: You promise a damn good novel; your reader pays damn good money for it. But there's more to it than that. Much more.
Besides being damn good, your reader expects the novel to be of a general type—either genre, mainstream, or literary.
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