Sunday, May 2, 2010

Reading: Another skill of a writer

This seems like such an obvious thing. Of course as a writer we are constantly reading. We read a few paragraphs from where we left off to get back into the groove. We read other's works to see how our favorite authors did this or did that or things that we should avoid. We read our own work to look for mistakes and such. But when's the last time you actually sat down with your most recently finished novel and just read it?

Reading through without actively trying to edit can tell you a lot about your own novel. While reading through mine, I found spots that I stumbled over. I marked these places as spots that needed work. Amazingly, most of them were more telling than showing. I also found a major flaw in the plot. My climax comes too early! I can't imagine what would have happened if I hadn't read my work. I might have called it good and started looking for an agent. Ha! Now I have an idea of where I need to go. The revision I will be starting will include a major rewrite. I can see this taking me a couple months. But at least I could see it before it was too late and being rejected by literary agents. And better yet, I know exactly why it would be rejected.

When I decided to read through my story, I knew it was going to take a little more than just skiming back and forth over my computer screen. Seeing it on the screen inspires me to edit, which isn't what I wanted to  be doing. If I was being interrupted by the constant need to revise something, I would never have found the major issues. So, I changed it to double spacing, so that I could eventually add some comments and took the saved file down to my local computer shop. Well, one of them anyway. I had a couple copies printed for a pretty reasonable price and had them spiral bound so they look at least a little professional. I can't even begin to tell you how amazing it is to see that. It wasn't even anything special, but wow.

Anyhoo, before I manage to get myself too off topic. I think that this is a good idea for all writers. If you write in a genre that you love to read, read your own work. Really read it. If you can find yourself sinking into the story at times, then you are on the right track. Just think about the way you will lose yourself in someone else's story. That's the goal. And this is a great way to get a little closer to doing that.


  1. Nice post. It's a good idea after that obligatory break from the novel to just sit down and read it. Then worry about editing and rewriting. I plan to do that soon with a novel I finished at the beginning of April.

  2. I love printing out and reading my work. Better still if it's written from the heart and you can hear your heart when you go back and re-read a story you wrote years ago.

    It's like time-traveling.

    My first book, though, is a beast. I don't ~want~ to go back and re-read. I'm too skeered. My second book isn't far off from that. My third is all right, but not great, and my fourth is an anthology collection.

    Now, my fifth is the first one I read and enjoyed reading front-to-back and back-to-front.

    - Eric


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