Read Like A Reader

I’m editing and revising the novel in progress. Its working title was ‘Long Summer’. Its gained a new title, ‘Incomplete States’. 

Long summer was part of the original concept, a summer for Brett and a summer for Humanity, ending as first contact and first battles were experienced. As concept understanding and development evolved and flowered, the underpinning concept and overarching story shifted. ‘Incomplete States’ is a fuller, better, title for the novel as written.

Into the editing and revising stage, I’m reading as a reader. I’ll mostly address my novel as I would if I were ignorant to its workings, as a reader would, reading it for entertainment. The differences come from noticing things and taking action on them.

  1. Typos, grammatical and spelling errors, of course.
  2. Pacing. If I find myself skipping over something, there’ a problem to be addressed. The Writer is summoned to find the root cause and solution.
  3. Pauses.

With pauses, anything breaking the reading rhythm and makes me pause requires a special investigation initiated. Several reasons can exist for the pauses. As I can’t wholly divorce myself from knowing the novel as a writer, I’m a prophet about some things destined to happen. I might be noticing a continuity issue regarding that, or a continuity issue with previously established matters. This problem, or challenge, is why some writers set aside their first draft, something called the ‘cold method’. Others will indulge in reading it aloud. I sometimes read aloud to clarify what’s causing the pause.

Mechanics could be the source for the pause, such as sloppy sentence or paragraph structures, or poor precedents and antecedents, or clumsy descriptions. Dialogue, and who is saying what, sometimes becomes muddy and must be clarified. Once in a while, the style has shifted. Some style shifts are planned and expected. The novel is a multiplex telling through six character POVs. Those characters roam in a sometimes sharply chaotic manner as their experiences and expectations, age, sex, race, and history change. The writing needs to be clear about what’s going on without revealing too much. Style is sometimes a party to that effort, but shouldn’t be an intrusion.

Yesterday’s reading efforts went superbly. I knocked out four chapters. Some changes were done. Afterward, I was answering some interview questions. The questions forced me to think more deeply about my processes. One conclusion realized from this exercise was how my processes had shifted. I used to write to finish what I was writing. I often had unrealistic expectations about how the novel should read, and how I felt about finishing it.

I’m now more comfortable with the journey and experience of writing a novel, including editing and revising it. It’s a unique experience. While people all around the planet are writing novels, each one is writing a unique novel. The experience of writing and finishing each novel is different. They concepts and stories are bred from different states of existence, expectations, and experiences – hopefully.

Time to get on with the pleasure of reading, editing and revising.

Cheers

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