The Importance of Readers

The first draft of The Longest Day of the Year has officially been sitting in the drawer for one month. Well…I should clarify. I pulled one copy out of the drawer and mailed it to a grad school friend in Oregon. The other copy traveled from the drawer, up the hill, to my parent’s house–and has gone from my father’s close reading to my mother’s. A “third,” digital copy has been emailed to a nonfiction author that recently retired to Western North Carolina and offered to critique my work. And a “forth,” digital copy will be emailed to Alaska in two weeks, when a respected reader and fellow writer there will have at it.

One of the most important things we can do as writers is entrust our work in the hands of others. All kinds of readers–close readers, fast readers, readers who prefer one kind of fiction over another, non-writer readers, professional editors, all of them–have something to offer by way of his or her unique experience reading the work. It’s tempting to send my 4 readers a list of questions to consider as they read, but I’ve decided to save my questions for after they’ve seen the work. I want them to have the experience I can never have, that is, of picking up the novel as if to enjoy a long, well-written book…and then, of course, telling me how they really experienced things.

It’s far from perfect. There will be inconsistencies and plot points that don’t add up. There will be times when the reader gets frustrated or confused. Other times, disappointed. But I want to know, from a clean slate perspective, where those issues arise out of the natural experience of reading for each individual. For my readers who are also writers, I want to know why they think such issues arose and to discuss options for revision. It’s like being a scientist that collects data. I can think whatever I want about it after the collecting is done, but beforehand, I’ve got to do everything within my power to create objective circumstances if I want honest results.

The draft has one more month of freedom. Come May, I’ll be chomping at the bit to have at it!

  • Lynn Lovegreen

    Fresh eyes can see things the writer can't. And come May, you'll be ready to work on it in revision mode. 🙂

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