Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Reading like a Writer: Nook Style

Some of my newest minions may not know this about me, but I can't stop talking up my Nook.

It's no secret that I love being able to scroll to change pages, read for hours without my hands cramping, to sideload library books, and—most importantly—my manuscript. (On an unrelated note, I vacillated like a mofo on whether to use an Oxford comma there, or leave it out. I think it adds a much needed dramatic pause, so I kept it in. Viva la comma d'Oxford!)

Though I'm a big advocate of printing out my manuscript, or reading it aloud, I think transferring it to another device, like an e-reader, does the same job. Just by shifting the format of the words I've been staring at for months (years?), editing suddenly becomes a whole lot more interesting. I don't know about y'all, but after a while, I stop *seeing* the words. It's more like I'm aware of them. They don't have the impact they should. And if my words have no impact on me, how am I supposed to tell if they'll have an impact on anyone else?

So here's where the e-reader comes in. When I read my manuscript on an e-reader, it feels more like a real book. (Same goes for printing, but I know ink and paper are of the essence for some folk) So when I read, I'm—hopefully—being pulled into the world I've created with my words. Usually, glaring style issues I've unwittingly been ignoring make themselves apparent: too much repetition of sentence structure, weak transitions from one sentence to another, and even pacing problems.

Mostly what I've noticed is that I can let myself enjoy the words, the way they sound, the images they conjure, much more when it feels much more like a real story. I mean, who hasn't been reading a great book, when suddenly, you're thrown out of the story by a strange turn of phrase, or repetitive sentence structure? It's those little things that can help make or break your novel when it comes to finding an agent, or later, an editor. These are craft issues, which I took fairly seriously before, but only because I was still learning. Now, even though I feel more comfortable with my style, I put even more emphasis on the way the words come together.

Anyone can "tell" a story. I want my readers to smell the mildew in the Louisiana air, sense the chill of witch magic, and feel along with my characters.

How do you get yourself out of the editing rut? Read aloud? Print? Write everything on Post-its? I'd love to hear it!

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